SOUIX CITY, IOWA– A Nebraska woman was caught with a 9 mm handgun loaded with eight bullets including one in the chamber by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer at Sioux Gateway Airport early this morning (March 11).
The TSA officer spotted the gun as it entered the checkpoint X-ray machine inside of the woman’s carry-on bag. TSA notified the Sioux City Police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and detained the woman, a resident of Dix County, Nebraska, for questioning before releasing her.
It was the first gun caught at the airport checkpoint so far this calendar year.
The woman, who lives in Ponca, Nebraska, told officials that she did not know that she had a loaded gun with her. She said that the gun belonged to her husband and they had reported the gun as stolen because they lost track of it.
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.