TSA catches handgun at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport

Local Press Release
Monday, October 26, 2020
This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport on Oct. 25. (TSA photo)

AVOCA, Pa. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped a woman from bringing a handgun onto an airplane at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport on Sunday, Oct. 25.

The woman, a resident of Tennessee, was caught with an unloaded .22 caliber handgun and a magazine with seven bullets among her carry-on items. TSA officials alerted the Avoca Borough Police Department, which responded to the checkpoint and confiscated the gun.  The woman said that she was carrying the firearm for protection, although she also claimed that she forgot that she had it with her.

“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 Karen Keys-Turner TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “When caught with a firearm, most travelers claim that they forgot that they had their gun with them. Quite frankly, that’s not an acceptable excuse. That’s just carelessness. This individual now faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty.”

Passengers are permitted to transport their firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at the airline check-in 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. Travelers should check for firearm laws in the jurisdictions they are flying to and from.

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.

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.