BUFFALO, N.Y. – An Erie, Pennsylvania, man was arrested by police after Transportation Security Administration officers stopped him from bringing a loaded handgun onto an airplane at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport on Tuesday, May 7.
The man was caught with a 9 mm handgun in one of his carry-on bags. It was loaded with seven bullets, including one in the chamber.
When the TSA officer spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police were contacted, responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the firearm and arrested the man on weapons charges. There was no impact to airport operations.
“It is important to remember that regardless of whether an individual has a concealed firearm permit, no guns are permitted past security checkpoints,” said Bart Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Upstate New York. “Our TSA officers are good at their jobs and are actively seeking prohibited items to ensure a secure flight for passengers and crew.”
Tuesday’s firearm catch was the second gun caught at the airport checkpoint this year. In 2018, TSA officers detected seven firearms in carry-on bags at the airport.
Nationwide last year, 4,239 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 11.6 firearms per day, approximately a 7 percent increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 3,957 detected in 2017. Eighty-six percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded and nearly 34 percent had a bullet in the chamber.
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed firearm permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes in their carry-on bags. In addition, TSA has the authority to assess civil penalties of up to $13,333 for weapons violations. 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 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.