HARRISBURG, Pa. – A Florida resident was issued a summons by police on Saturday, November 9, after Transportation Security Administration officers at Harrisburg International Airport caught him with two guns in his carry-on bag. The guns marked the fifth and sixth guns caught at the airport so far this year, tying the number caught during all 12 months of 2018.
TSA officers caught the man with two unloaded .22 caliber handguns in the bottom of his black duffel bag as it entered the checkpoint X-ray machine. TSA officers notified the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority Police, which came to the checkpoint and cited the man with disorderly conduct at the airport checkpoint.
The man told officials that he did not know he had the guns with him because he took the wrong duffle bag with him when he headed to the airport.
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 $4,100. 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.