Transportation Security Administration officers prevented a New York City woman from carrying a 9 mm handgun loaded with five bullets onto her flight at LaGuardia Airport on Thursday, April 29.
A TSA officer spotted the handgun on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor. TSA immediately alerted the Port Authority Police, which responded to the checkpoint, and detained the woman for questioning before arresting her on a weapons charge.
In addition to being arrested, she also faces a stiff federal civil penalty for bringing a gun to an airport security checkpoint.
The woman told officials that she picked up the wrong bag to take on her trip and instead of taking the right bag, she took one with a loaded gun in it.
Guns can be transported on a flight if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and declared to the airline. The airline will be sure that the gun travels with checked baggage in the belly of the plane, never in the cabin of the plane.
Additionally, replica firearms also are prohibited in carry-on baggage and also must be transported in checked luggage.
At the airport during the check-in process, a passenger needs to go to the airline ticket counter to declare the firearm, ammunition and any firearm parts.
Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. Among the factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount include whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition.
Citations for loaded guns range from $3,000 to $10,000 and from $1,500 to $2,475 for unloaded guns. Citations for replica guns, BB guns and air guns range from $360 to $2,090. These civil penalties apply 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.
Individuals who violate rules regarding traveling with guns will have Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheck® expedited screening benefits revoked for a period of time.
TSA has additional traveler information specifically related to the transportation of firearms and ammunition posted on its website. A full summary of TSA’s civil penalties for prohibited items is also available online.
TSA reminds passengers to always know the contents of their carry-on bag prior to coming to the security checkpoint. TSA has multiple resources available to passengers to help them determine whether an item is permitted in carry-on baggage, checked baggage, either or neither.
Travelers can use the “Can I Bring?” feature on the TSA website or on the free downloadable myTSA app. Travelers can also Tweet or Message “@AskTSA” if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag. Just snap a picture or send a question and get real-time assistance weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.
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.