Local man cited by police after TSA catches him with a loaded revolver at Philadelphia International Airport checkpoint

Local Press Release
Monday, November 29, 2021
TSA officers detected this loaded handgun inside a man’s carry-on bag at Philadelphia International Airport on Nov. 26. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA—Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers prevented a Philadelphia resident from carrying his .38 caliber handgun loaded with five bullets onto his flight on Friday, Nov. 26, at Philadelphia International Airport.

“This man told us that he did not know that he had to check his gun with the airline for transport,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “First of all, if you are transporting a gun for a flight, the safe way to do so is to start by ensuring it is unloaded. The fact that he claimed he did not know the proper way to pack his gun for his flight is no excuse. If you own a firearm, you need to be responsible and do a little homework before you start carrying it to an airport with the intention of taking it out of state. The homework is simple. You log onto www.tsa.gov and our web site is crystal clear on the proper way to pack your gun and declare it to the airline for transport in the belly of the plane where nobody has access to it during a flight. Then you should check with the jurisdiction at your destination so that you’re not violating that state’s firearm laws.”

When TSA officers spotted the revolver in the security checkpoint X-ray machine, they alerted Philadelphia Police, who confiscated the weapon and cited the man, who also faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty for carrying his loaded gun to a TSA security 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







(As of 11/28/21)

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.