WORCESTER, Mass. – A Winchendon, Massachusetts woman was stopped by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers on Wednesday, September 18, with a loaded firearm in her carry-on bag at Worcester Regional Airport (ORH).
The TSA officer detected the loaded .22-caliber firearm with eight rounds, one in the chamber, when the passenger’s carry-on bag was being screened in the X-ray machine. The TSA officer immediately contacted Massachusetts State Police. When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the security lane comes to a halt until the police resolve the incident. Passengers are never permitted to travel with firearms in carry-on bags.
This is the first firearm detected at ORH this year. In 2018, one firearm was also discovered.
Passengers may only travel with a firearm in a checked bag if they properly pack and declare it to the airline. In checked bags, 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, even if they have a concealed firearm permit, are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement. If an individual is a TSA Pre✓® member, they could 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 $4,100. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted online. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
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.