EAST ELMHURST, N.Y. – A North Carolina woman was arrested this morning, July 15, after Transportation Security Administration officers at LaGuardia Airport caught her carrying a loaded gun into the security checkpoint.
TSA officers spotted the handgun as it entered the checkpoint X-ray machine in a red roller-bag style suitcase. It was loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber. The traveler, a resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, was arrested by Port Authority Police on weapons charges. The woman, who was traveling with two of her grandchildren, told officials that she did not know that there was a gun in her carry-on bag because she had borrowed the bag.
Monday’s gun marked the sixth firearm that TSA officers have detected at the LaGuardia Airport checkpoints so far this year. Last year TSA officers stopped two guns at the airport’s checkpoints.
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.
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% 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% 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. If an individual is a TSA Pre✓® member, that person could even lose TSA Pre✓® status. 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 $4,000. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.