TSA catches loaded handgun at Portland Jetport security checkpoint

Man claimed he didn’t know he had the gun
Local Press Release
TSA officers caught this loaded handgun tucked inside a backpack at the Portland International Jetport checkpoint on Jan. 17. (TSA photos)

PORTLAND, ME – The Transportation Security Administration caught a Penobscot County, Maine, man at the Portland International Jetport checkpoint this morning (Jan. 17) with a 9 mm handgun loaded with 12 bullets. It was the first gun caught at the security checkpoint so far this year. TSA caught three guns at the airport checkpoint last year.

The man, a resident of Hampden, Maine, told officials that he did not know that he had his loaded gun in his backpack.

A TSA officer spotted the man’s gun when his carry-on belongings entered the checkpoint X-ray machine. Airport police were contacted, arrived at the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and detained the man for questioning. He was permitted to call home to notify his wife, who drove to the airport to pick up the gun and take it home. 

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Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only 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, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018. Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.

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, then 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.

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