GRAND ISLAND, NE – A Keith County, Nebraska, man was stopped by the Transportation Security Administration with a 9 mm gun loaded with 17 bullets, including one in the chamber at the Central Nebraska Regional Airport security checkpoint yesterday (Feb. 18).
TSA officers caught the handgun as it entered the checkpoint X-ray machine. Grand Island Police were contacted, confiscated the gun and detained the man, a resident of Ogallala, Nebraska, for questioning before allowing him to catch his flight—minus the gun. The man told officials 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, 4,432 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, 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.