Man traveling with toddler arrested with a loaded gun at John F. Kennedy International Airport

Local Press Release
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
TSA officers spotted this handgun among a man’s carry-on items at a JFK checkpoint on Tuesday. (TSA photo)

NEW YORK – A California man was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) on Tuesday, July 30, when Transportation Security Administration officers found a loaded gun among his carry-on items at one of the airport checkpoints. The 9 mm handgun was loaded with eight bullets, including one in the chamber. 

It marked the fifth gun that TSA officers have detected at JFK security checkpoints so far this year – more than double the two firearms that were discovered at the airport in 2018.

When the TSA officers spotted the gun, they contacted the Port Authority Police, who arrived at the checkpoint, confiscated the firearm and detained the man for questioning before arresting him on weapons charges. The man, who was traveling with a toddler, told officials that he took his friend’s carry-on bag by mistake. Police took care of the child during the incident.

Passengers are permitted to travel domestically with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared to the airline. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by country, 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 the individual is a TSA Pre✓® member, that person could even lose their 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.