TSA catches handgun at Syracuse Hancock International Airport security checkpoint

Local Press Release
Monday, September 20, 2021
TSA officers at Syracuse Hancock International Airport stopped a man with this handgun at the security checkpoint on September 19. (TSA photo)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers prevented a Texas man from boarding his flight with a .44 caliber handgun loaded with five bullets, at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport security checkpoint on Sunday, September 19.    

A TSA officer spotted the handgun on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor as the man’s belongings were being screened. A revolver was found in his carry-on bag. TSA immediately alerted the Syracuse Police, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon, cited the man and issued a summons for him to appear in court at a future date. The man told officials that he flew his private plane to New York with the gun, but was having trouble with the aircraft so he booked a commercial flight back to his home in Texas.

“This was a great catch on the part of our officers on a busy Sunday at the airport when they prevented a loaded firearm from getting onto the plane,” said Bart R. Johnson, TSA Federal Security Director for Upstate New York. “It is unfortunate that this individual did not even know that he had a loaded firearm with him. His actions were irresponsible and he caused a significant disruption at the checkpoint.”

Guns can be transported on a flight if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and declared to the airline. At the airport during the check-in process, a passenger needs to go to the airline ticket counter to declare the firearm, ammunition and any firearm parts. The airline will be sure that the gun travels with checked baggage in the belly of the plane, never in the cabin of the plane. Additionally, replica firearms also are prohibited in carry-on baggage and also must be transported in checked luggage.

TSA also recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements for transporting firearms.

Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. Among the factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount include whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition. Citations for loaded guns range from $3,000 to $10,000 and from $1,500 to $2,475 for unloaded guns. Citations for replica guns, BB guns and air guns range from $360 to $2,090. These civil penalties apply 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.

TSA Firearms Caught at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport checkpoint, 2017 to 2021







(As of 9-19-21)

Guns caught






*Significantly fewer passengers than previous years due to the pandemic.

Individuals who violate rules regarding traveling with guns will have Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheck® expedited screening benefits revoked for a period of time.  

TSA has additional traveler information specifically related to the transportation of firearms and ammunition posted on its website. A full summary of TSA’s civil penalties for prohibited items is also available online.

TSA reminds passengers to always know the contents of their carry-on bag prior to coming to the security checkpoint. TSA has multiple resources available to passengers to help them determine whether an item is permitted in carry-on baggage, checked baggage, either or neither.

Travelers can use the “Can I Bring?” feature on the TSA website or on the free downloadable myTSA app. Travelers can also Tweet or Message “@AskTSA” if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag. Just snap a picture or send a question and get real-time assistance weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.

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.