TSA catches two Cumberland County residents with loaded guns at Harrisburg International Airport

Local Press Release
Thursday, August 13, 2020
TSA officers detected this loaded .38 caliber handgun in a man’s carry-on bag at Harrisburg International Airport on Aug. 12. (TSA photo)

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Transportation Security Administration officers prevented two Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, residents from each bringing a loaded handgun through the security checkpoint at Harrisburg International Airport on Wednesday, Aug. 12.

In both instances, which were not related, TSA officers alerted the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority Police, which came to the checkpoint and confiscated the handguns. Police cited each individual on state weapons charges. 

In the first incident, a Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, man was stopped with a .38 caliber revolver loaded with five bullets that he had tucked into his laptop case.

In the second incident, a Wormleysburg, Pennsylvania, woman was caught with a 9 mm handgun loaded with 12 bullets that she was carrying in her purse.

MDT 2nd Gun Catch
TSA officers detected this loaded 9 mm caliber handgun in a woman’s carry-on bag at Harrisburg International Airport on Aug. 12. (TSA photo)

They marked the second and third guns caught at the airport so far this month. On August 1, a Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, woman was stopped with a pink handgun at the checkpoint.

TSA recently announced that its officers are detecting firearms at a higher rate during the pandemic than they did last year. In July, TSA officers detected 15.3 guns per million people last month compared to 5.1 guns per million people screened during July 2019. The rate is particularly alarming, given that TSA screened about 75% fewer passengers in July 2020, over the previous year’s volume.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage only if they are properly packaged and declared to the airline. To transport a firearm, it must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Then it needs to be taken to the airline check-in counter.

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.

Number of guns caught at the Harrisburg International Airport checkpoint 2015 to 2020








Guns at Harrisburg Int’l Airport







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 PreCheck™ member, that person could even lose TSA PreCheck™ status. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100 but it can go as high as $13,669, depending on the circumstances. 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.