TSA catches man with handgun at Philadelphia International Airport checkpoint

Local Press Release
Friday, February 12, 2021
A man was caught with this loaded handgun in his carry-on bag at a Philadelphia International Airport checkpoint on Feb. 11. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA—Transportation Security Administration officers at Philadelphia International Airport stopped a .40 caliber handgun loaded with eight bullets, including one in the chamber, from getting through the checkpoint on Thursday, Feb. 11.  

When the TSA officer detected the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the police were alerted, responded to the checkpoint and confiscated the weapon. The man, a resident of Sicklerville, New Jersey in Camden County, told officials that he forgot that he had his firearm with him.

The man now faces a stiff Federal financial civil penalty for carrying a gun to a TSA checkpoint.

“It continues to be disappointing when a traveler says he forgot that he had a loaded gun with him,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Philadelphia International Airport. “It is important to know the contents of your carry-on bags to ensure that there are no prohibited items inside.”

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 Philadelphia International Airport checkpoints, 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.