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

Local Press Release
Monday, September 27, 2021
TSA officers detected this loaded handgun inside a woman’s carry-on bag at Philadelphia International Airport on September 23. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA—Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers prevented a Montgomery County, Pa., woman from carrying a 9mm handgun loaded with eight bullets onto her flight on Thursday, September 23, at Philadelphia International Airport.

It was the 27th gun detected by TSA officers at the airport so far this year, which surpassed the 26 guns that were caught during 2020.

“This traveler told us that she forgot that she had a loaded gun with her,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “If you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times. There is no excuse for forgetting that you have a deadly weapon with you. She now faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty.”

When TSA officers spotted the gun in the security checkpoint X-ray machine, they alerted Philadelphia Police, who confiscated the weapon and arrested the woman, a King of Prussia, Pa., resident.

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.