Montgomery County man arrested by police after TSA catches him with gun and ammunition at Philadelphia International Airport checkpoint

Local Press Release
Monday, July 19, 2021
TSA officers detected this revolver in a Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, man’s carry-on bag on July 17. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA—Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers prevented a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, man from carrying a .22 caliber handgun along with 22 bullets onto his flight on Saturday, July 17, at Philadelphia International Airport.

Gerardo Spero photo
TSA Federal Security Director Gerardo Spero shows just some of the ammunition caught at the Philadelphia International Airport security checkpoints in the last month and a half. (TSA photo)

“We’re seeing a rash of guns and ammunition being brought to our checkpoints,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “This is not the wild, wild west. 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,, 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 Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, resident on weapons charges.  

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.

Ammo at PHL photo
A portion of the ammunition caught by TSA officers at Philadelphia International Airport security checkpoints during the last month and a half. (TSA photo)

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






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.