Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught a man with a gun in his carry-on luggage at Newark-Liberty International Airport, yesterday, March 30, but the baggage belonged to his traveling companion, who took responsibility and ended up getting arrested.
TSA officials spotted the 9mm handgun in the man’s carry-on luggage as it entered the checkpoint X-ray unit in Newark’s Terminal B. The gun was not loaded. Port Authority Police were alerted, confiscated the weapon and detained the man for questioning. He explained to officials that the luggage belonged to his aunt, with whom he was traveling. He told officials that his aunt was returning a rental vehicle and would soon be coming to the checkpoint.
When she arrived, the woman, a California resident, took responsibility for the bag and its contents and was arrested by police and charged with violating local weapons laws.
In addition to her arrest, she also faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty for bringing a gun to a security checkpoint.
TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances.
This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.
When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. Guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane. Guns are absolutely not permitted to be carried onto planes. Checked firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and travelers should check into firearm laws before they decide to travel with their guns. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019 due to the pandemic.
The result was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.