TSA catches three guns in five days Philadelphia International Airport

Thursday, August 4, 2022
A man from Reading, Pa., tried to carry this revolver and five knives onto his flight out of Philadelphia International Airport on July 30. (TSA photo)

PHILADELPHIA – Transportation Security Administration officers have prevented three individuals from bringing loaded guns past the security checkpoints at Philadelphia International Airport in the past five days. 

TSA officers stopped a Millville, N.J., man from carrying a revolver and five knives onto his flight on July 30. The Cumberland County resident was cited by the police. TSA stopped a man from Eagles Mere, Pa., in Sullivan County, Pa., with a 9 mm handgun on Tuesday, Aug. 2. The man had been issued a gate pass from the airline to escort his young daughter to her gate when he was caught with his gun and was arrested by police. Then on Aug. 3, a woman from Reading, Pa., who was carrying an unloaded 9mm handgun, was also caught by TSA with her gun. She was cited by the police.

When the TSA officers spotted the guns in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Philadelphia Police were alerted, confiscated the guns and detained the individuals for questioning before citing or arresting them. In each incident, TSA forwarded the incidents to be followed up with the issuance of a federal financial civil penalty.

“Three guns in five days is an epidemic. Bringing deadly weapons such as handguns to a security checkpoint is a very serious offense,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Philadelphia International Airport. “Individuals are responsible for everything in their possession that they are carrying through a security checkpoint and there are severe consequences for bringing guns to a checkpoint. Not only do these three individuals face criminal charges, but they also will be receiving financial civil penalties for bringing a deadly weapon to a security checkpoint.”

TSA reserves the right to issue a stiff civil penalty to individuals who bring weapons with them to a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating or aggravating 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 into an airport or onto an airplane. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Travelers are allowed to transport their firearms as checked baggage if they are properly packed and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane with checked baggage. Checked firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and travelers should check into firearm laws before they decide to travel with their guns. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

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 PHL Airport checkpoints, 2017 to 2022

Year

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

(as of 8/3/22

Guns caught at PHL checkpoints

35

25

20

26

39

22

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2022, about 86 percent were loaded.

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