TSA stops fourth gun within a week at Philadelphia International Airport

Local Press Release
Thursday, September 3, 2020
TSA officers detected this loaded handgun in a man’s carry-on bag at Philadelphia International Airport on Sept. 2. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers have stopped four individuals from bringing a handgun onto an airplane within a seven-day span at Philadelphia International Airport.

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

The latest incident, which took place on Wednesday, Sept. 2, an Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, man brought a loaded 9 mm handgun with him to one of the checkpoints. TSA officers immediately alerted the Philadelphia Police who responded to the checkpoint and arrested the man on weapons charges. The man told officials that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him.

TSA officers detected the first gun, a 9 mm handgun, on Thursday, Aug. 27; the second gun, a .40 caliber weapon, on Friday, Aug. 28, and the third gun, a 9 mm firearm, on Aug. 30.   

None of the incidents were related.

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.

“Guns are prohibited in the cabins of airplanes. It’s nothing new. It is 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 16 guns so far this year compared to 20 last year. Considering the fact that there are about 75 percent fewer passengers flying due to the pandemic, it’s not a pretty picture. Actually, it is an extremely disturbing trend.”

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 9-2-20)

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.