Local woman arrested by police after TSA catches her with loaded gun at Philadelphia International Airport checkpoint

Local Press Release
Thursday, June 17, 2021
TSA officers detected this loaded handgun in a Philadelphia woman’s carry-on bag on June 16. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA—Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers prevented a Philadelphia woman from carrying her loaded gun onto a flight out of Philadelphia International Airport yesterday, June 16, which resulted in her arrest by the police.   

“If you own a firearm, you need to make sure it is not in your carry-on bag when you show up at the airport security checkpoint,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Travelers need to take care to pack their firearms properly for transport. If you’re not sure if an item is permitted to be carried onto an airplane, there are many ways to find out via TSA’s web site, www.tsa.gov, via TSA’s myTSA app, and via TSA’s Twitter account, @AskTSA. However, it should be obvious that guns are not allowed to be carried onto a flight.”

When TSA officers spotted the gun in the security checkpoint X-ray machine, they alerted Philadelphia Police, who arrested the woman on weapons charges. The gun was a .32 caliber weapon loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber. In addition to the arrest, the woman also faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty for carrying a loaded gun to an airport checkpoint.  

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.

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.