TSA catches loaded handgun at Syracuse Hancock International Airport security checkpoint

Local Press Release
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
TSA officers at Syracuse Hancock International Airport stopped a local man with this loaded handgun at the security checkpoint on Feb. 8. (TSA photo)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught a Madison County, New York, man with a .45 caliber handgun loaded with five bullets at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport security checkpoint on Monday, Feb. 8.  

A TSA officer spotted the handgun on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor as the man’s belongings were being screened. TSA immediately alerted the Syracuse Police, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and questioned the man, a resident of Erieville, New York. He now faces stiff Federal civil penalties for bringing a loaded gun to an airport security checkpoint.

“It is once again disappointing to discover a loaded handgun in carry-on luggage at the checkpoint, that was brought to the airport by an individual who failed to be aware of where their weapon was,” said Bart R. Johnson, TSA Federal Security Director. “I would like to commend the actions of the officers who discovered the weapon, and through their actions, prevented the weapon from getting onto the plane.”

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts 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 have their TSA PreCheck privileges suspended.

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.

TSA Firearms Caught at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport checkpoint, 2017 to 2021







Guns caught






*Significantly fewer passengers than previous years due to the pandemic.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019 due to the pandemic. The result was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019.  Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.

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.