NEWARK, N.J. – A Pennsylvania woman was arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport early this morning, April 6, after a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer detected a loaded handgun in her carry-on bag. The gun was loaded with 11 bullets, including one in the chamber. It marked the eighth gun that TSA officers have caught at the airport so far this calendar year, surpassing the total of six that were caught in all of 2017, and marks a record-setting pace for the year. It also was the second gun caught by TSA officers at the airport within a two-week span. Another gun was detected by officers on March 24.
Number of Firearms caught at Newark Airport Checkpoints
|2018 (to date)
The woman, a resident of Richlandtown, Pennsylvania, told TSA officials that she forgot that she was carrying her loaded handgun inside of her knapsack.
“Firearm owners need to pack their weapons properly, which means that they should not be brought to an airport in a carry-on bag,” said TSA’s New Jersey Federal Security Director Thomas Carter. “Our TSA officers know how to detect firearms. Claiming that you forgot that you had a gun with you is no excuse. If you own a firearm, you should know where it is at all times. Even if you have a gun permit, you are not allowed to bring your gun onto an airplane. A firearm can travel on a plane only if it is properly packed and declared at the airline check-in counter so that it gets stored with the rest of the checked bags--in the belly of the plane.”
A TSA officer who was staffing the checkpoint X-ray monitor detected the handgun as the Buck’s County, Pennsylvania, resident’s carry-on items entered the X-ray machine. TSA officers immediately contacted the Port Authority Police Department, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and arrested the man on state weapons charges.
As a reminder, individuals who bring weapons to the checkpoint are subject to federal civil penalties of up to $13,000. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900. 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 TSA’s penalties is posted online.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-side case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.