TSA catches loaded handgun at Buffalo Niagara International Airport

Local Press Release
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
TSA officers at Buffalo Niagara International Airport detected this loaded handgun in a traveler’s carry-on bag on Nov. 9. (TSA photo)

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Buffalo Niagara International Airport caught a Monroe County, New York, man with a .22 caliber handgun loaded with five bullets in his carry-on bag on Monday, Nov. 9.

A TSA officer spotted the handgun on the X-ray monitor as the carry-on bag entered the X-ray machine. Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) Police were alerted and responded to the checkpoint. The police took possession of the gun and cited the man, a resident of Brockport, New York.

The man claimed that he lost his loaded gun four years ago and did not realize that it was in his carry-on bag. He surrendered the firearm to NFTA Police for documentation and destruction.

“Claiming that you did not know you had a loaded gun with you when you arrive at the airport is no excuse,” said Bart R. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Upstate New York. “If you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times. This individual now faces a stiff Federal financial civil penalty.”

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.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should check for firearm laws in the jurisdictions they are flying to and from.

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.