TSA stops three guns in four days at Philadelphia International Airport

Local Press Release
Monday, August 31, 2020
TSA officers caught this handgun at a Philadelphia International Airport security checkpoint on Friday, Aug. 28. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped three individuals from each bringing a handgun onto an airplane in a four-day span at Philadelphia International Airport.

In each instance, the Philadelphia police responded, confiscated the weapons and filed criminal charges.

TSA officers detected the first gun when a Florida man was caught on Thursday, Aug. 27, with a 9 mm handgun. TSA stopped the second gun the next day, Friday, Aug. 28, when a Philadelphia man was caught when he tried to carry a .40 caliber handgun loaded with eight bullets through the checkpoint. He was cited by the police. TSA officers caught the third man, also from Philadelphia, when he tried to bring a 9 mm handgun loaded with 15 bullets including one in the chamber onto his flight. The police arrested him.

None of the incidents were related.

In all three instances, after TSA officers spotted the handguns in a checkpoint X-ray machine, TSA officials immediately alerted the Philadelphia Police, who responded to the checkpoints and confiscated the weapons.

When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. Guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.

PHL gun catch 8-30
TSA officers caught this handgun at a Philadelphia International Airport security checkpoint on Sunday, Aug. 30. (TSA photo)

“Guns are prohibited in the cabins of airplanes. It’s nothing new. In fact, it’s a law that has been in place long before TSA even existed,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Philadelphia International Airport. “Our officers have caught 15 guns in just the first eight months of the year compared to 20 during all 12 months of 2019. On top of that, we are seeing far few passengers who are flying due to the pandemic, so that tells me more people are bringing guns to the airport, which is extremely disturbing.”

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns with them at a checkpoint. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100 and can go as high as $13,669 depending on any mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck™, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck™ privileges.

Guns caught by TSA at the Philadelphia International Airport checkpoints 2016 to 2020







(As of 8-30-20)

Guns caught







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.

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.