Police arrested a Rockland County, New York, man after a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer caught him with a 9 mm handgun loaded with five bullets in his carry-on bag at a Newark Liberty International Airport security checkpoint on Friday, Aug. 21.
TSA officers caught the handgun as it entered the checkpoint X-ray machine and immediately alerted the Port Authority Police.
The police confiscated the gun and arrested the man, a resident of Monsey, New York, on weapons charges.
“Despite the ongoing pandemic, our TSA officers remain laser focused on ensuring a secure flight for passengers and crew members while at the same time mitigating health risks,” said Tom Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey.
“Guns at checkpoints are never a good thing, and with the current situation it’s even more serious.
There are enough risks at a checkpoint and bringing a loaded gun is an accident waiting to happen. It is dangerous to our officers and other travelers and can be easily mistaken as an intentional attempt to bring a deadly prohibited item onto an airplane.”
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.
TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns with them at a checkpoint.
A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100 and can go as high as $13,669 depending on any 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.
Nationwide last year, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018.
Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.