CHICAGO - Transportation Security Administration officers at O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport discovered 11 firearms at security checkpoints in July 2021.
While firearms may be transported in checked baggage (provided they are declared to the airline, in a proper carrying case and unloaded), they are prohibited in carry-on bags.
“Passengers must remember they’re responsible for the contents of bags, and our advice is they thoroughly inspect all personal belongings to make sure there are no illegal or prohibited items before coming to the airport,” Illinois TSA Federal Security Director Dereck Starks said. “This simple act could save you lots of time and money, along with avoiding possible arrest with local law enforcement.”
In June, 18 firearms were detected at O’Hare and Midway. As a comparison, a total of 83 guns were detected at both airports in all of 2019 – or about 7 guns per month, on average. In 2020, which saw a much lower number of passengers, 55 guns were stopped at Chicago airport checkpoints.
TSA may impose civil penalties of up to $13,910 per violation per person. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100. The complete list of civil penalties is on the TSA website. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges for a period of time.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed separately from ammunition in a locked hardback case and declared at the airline check-in counter. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should check for firearm laws in the jurisdictions they are flying to and from.
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.