Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials said security officers stopped a Hawaii resident with a handgun at a security checkpoint in Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday, August 21.
According to officials, a TSA officer stopped the man who had an unloaded antique gun inside his carry-on bag when the carry-on bag entered a checkpoint X-ray unit.
The man told officials that it was his father’s gun and forgot that it was inside his carry-on bag. Police permitted the man to leave the airport to secure the weapon, according to officials.
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.
Officials said this applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits. Even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow 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.
According to officials, 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 not permitted to be carried onto airplanes.
Checked firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. TSA has details on how to travel with a firearm posted on its website properly.
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.
However, 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 ten firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019. Of the guns captured by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.