TSA catches man with handgun concealed in his shoe at Philadelphia International Airport

Local Press Release
Thursday, September 24, 2020
TSA officers detected this handgun artfully concealed in a man’s shoe at Philadelphia International Airport on Sept. 23. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers detected a .25 caliber handgun artfully concealed in a traveler’s shoe at one of the security checkpoints at Philadelphia International Airport on Wednesday, Sept. 23. It was not loaded.

TSA officers alerted the Philadelphia Police, who arrived at the checkpoint and confiscated the gun and arrested the man, a resident of Philadelphia.

 “Our TSA officers are skilled at detecting firearms and other prohibited items,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “This was not a case of forgetfulness. This was an intentional effort on the part of this individual to try to board an airplane with a gun. Not only will he need to spend money on an attorney as a result of his arrest, but he now faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty.

Spero also pointed out that it was the 18th gun caught by TSA officers at the airport so far this year, just two shy of the number caught during 2019 with three months remaining in this calendar year. 

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







(As of 9-23-20)

Guns caught






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.

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.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket 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.

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.