BECKLEY, W.Va. – A Fayette County, West Virginia, man was cited by police after a Transportation Security Administration officer at Raleigh County Memorial Airport (BKW) spotted a loaded gun in the man’s carry-on bag at the airport checkpoint on Friday, June 29.
The man was stopped at the checkpoint with a handgun loaded with four bullets. The TSA officer who was staffing the checkpoint spotted the handgun as it appeared on the X-ray monitor.
TSA officers immediately contacted the police, who responded, confiscated the gun and cited the man on weapons charges. The traveler told officials that he forgot that his loaded gun was in his carry-on bag.
When a traveler shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. In this case, June 29 just happened to be the second busiest day in the history of the Transportation Security Administration, with more than 2.68 million passengers and crew screened at airport checkpoints nationwide.
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-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed carry permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes. In addition, TSA has the authority to access civil penalties of up to $13,000. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on TSA.gov. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.