TSA intercepts guns at Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Local Press Release
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
This weapon was discovered in a carry-on bag at Chicago O’Hare International Airport on Saturday, Feb. 13.

CHICAGO —Transportation Security Administration officers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) stopped three handguns in separate and unrelated incidents from Saturday, Feb. 13 through Tuesday, Feb. 16.

The details of the incidents are:

  • Saturday, Feb. 13: A .38 revolver loaded with five rounds of ammunition was caught in a checkpoint X-ray machine.
  • Monday, Feb. 15: A firearm and ammunition in a carry-on bag were stopped by a TSA officer at a X-ray checkpoint.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 16: A loaded 9mm firearm in a carry-on bag was stopped at a checkpoint X-ray machine.

In all incidents, TSA officers contacted Chicago Police Department for further action. Individuals may face arrest and criminal charges. Travelers who bring firearms to an airport security checkpoint or who transport guns or ammunition improperly in checked baggage could face stiff Federal civil penalties.

“Individuals who want to fly with their firearms are permitted to do so as long as they follow the regulations for transporting their weapon,” said Dereck Starks, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Illinois. “If you want to travel with your firearm, the first thing you should do is make sure it is unloaded. Then pack it in a hard-sided case and lock the case. Upon arriving at the airport, take the case to the airline check-in counter and declare that you want to fly with it. The airline will make sure it is stored securely in the underbelly of the plane so that nobody has access to it during the flight.”

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 aggravating 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. 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.