TSA catches handgun at Philadelphia International Airport checkpoint

NJ man claimed the gun belonged to his friend
Local Press Release
Friday, March 26, 2021
A New Jersey man was caught with this handgun in his carry-on bag at a Philadelphia International Airport checkpoint on March 26. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA—Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Philadelphia International Airport caught a .32 caliber handgun in a Gloucester County, New Jersey, man’s carry-on bag at one of the checkpoints early this morning.

The TSA team alerted the Philadelphia police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and arrested the man, a resident of Glassboro, New Jersey. He told officials that the handgun belonged to his friend and he forgot that he had his friend’s gun in his carry-on bag.

He now faces a stiff Federal financial civil penalty 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.

“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,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Philadelphia International Airport. “Travelers need to be prepared to go through the security checkpoint and that means knowing what you are bringing with you. There should be no prohibited or illegal items in carry-on or checked bags. If you’re unsure if an item is permitted through a checkpoint, send your question to our social media team via Twitter at @AskTSA. It is always far better to ask and know before you head to the airport rather than show up at a checkpoint with something that you shouldn’t have with you.”

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.