TSA catches second gun within a week at Philadelphia International Airport checkpoint

Local Press Release
Thursday, March 18, 2021
A woman was caught with this loaded handgun in her carry-on bag at a Philadelphia International Airport checkpoint on March 17. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA—Transportation Security Administration officers at Philadelphia International Airport have caught two travelers with guns at the airport security checkpoints within the last week. They stopped a man with a .40 caliber gun loaded with 15 bullets on Friday, March 12 and they caught a woman with an unloaded 9mm handgun yesterday, Wednesday, March 17.   

Both individuals claimed that they forgot that they had their guns with them.

When TSA officers detect guns in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the police are alerted to handle the incident. People who bring guns to airport checkpoints face stiff Federal financial civil penalties because guns are not permitted through airport checkpoints.

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.

“If you own a gun, you need to know where it is at all times,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Philadelphia International Airport. “Telling us that you forgot that you had a gun with you is no excuse. It is important to know the contents of your carry-on bags to ensure that there are no weapons inside.”

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.

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on 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.

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.