ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – A Salem, New Jersey, woman was caught with a .380 caliber handgun loaded with six bullets by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer at Atlantic City International Airport on Friday, Feb. 28.
The TSA officer spotted the gun as it entered the checkpoint X-ray machine inside of a carry-on bag. TSA notified the airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and detained the woman for questioning before releasing her.
It was the first gun caught at the airport so far this calendar year. Last year TSA officers caught two firearms at the airport’s checkpoint.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at the airline check-in counter. 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 a security 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 the individual is a TSA Pre✓® member, that person could even lose their TSA Pre✓® status. In addition, TSA has the authority to assess civil penalties 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.