HARRISBURG, Pa. – Transportation Security Administration officers at Harrisburg International Airport prevented a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, man from bringing a .380 caliber handgun loaded with seven bullets onto an airplane yesterday, November 17. It marked the fifth caught at the checkpoint so far this year. TSA officers detected six guns at the airport last year.
The man’s gun was caught by TSA officers as his belongings were entering the security checkpoint X-ray machine. It was spotted inside a brown leather backpack. TSA officers notified the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority Police, which came to the checkpoint and detained him for questioning. The man claimed that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him.
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.