TSA catches man with loaded handgun at Philadelphia International Airport

20th gun of the year ties the number caught during 2020
Local Press Release
Friday, October 9, 2020
TSA officers detected this handgun at Philadelphia International Airport on Oct. 8. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers detected a 9mm handgun loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber, at a security checkpoint at Philadelphia International Airport on Thursday, Oct. 8. It marked the 20th gun that TSA officers caught at the airport, which ties the number caught in 2020.

TSA officers alerted the Philadelphia Police, who arrived at the checkpoint and confiscated the gun and arrested the man, a resident of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. The man said that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him.

“It is extremely disappointing to see so many people bringing their firearms to the airport,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Philadelphia International Airport. “Traveler volume since the pandemic hit has ranged anywhere from 80 to 60 percent lower than last year, and yet with about three months to go before the end of this calendar year, we have already seen as many guns caught in 10 months as we saw during all 12 months of 2019 when passenger volume was significantly more robust.

“Yesterday was a case of carelessness on the part of the traveler,” Spero said. “Claiming that you forgot that you had a loaded gun on you just doesn’t fly. If you own a gun, you need to know where it is at all times.”

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.

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







(As of 10-8-20)

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.