HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Lawrence County, Ohio, man was cited by police after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Huntington Tri-State Airport detected a handgun in the man’s carry-on bag early this morning (Feb. 17). The gun was loaded with five bullets.
The gun was caught as the man, a resident of Chesapeake, Ohio, entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted on the carry-on bag, which required a closer inspection. The firearm was removed by the local police who confiscated the gun and cited the man on a weapons charge.
In addition to the criminal citation issued by the police, the man also faces a stiff financial civil penalty from TSA. The penalty for carrying weapons was recently increased to a maximum of $15,000.
“The TSA officers in Huntington perform their jobs exceptionally well,” said John C. Allen, TSA’s Federal Security Director for West Virginia. “When dangerous items such as loaded guns are brought to a security checkpoint, it represents a serious security and safety concern. Individuals are not permitted to carry a firearm through a security checkpoint— not someone with a concealed weapons permit, not someone who is enrolled in TSA PreCheck®, not an airport worker and not a traveler.”
Passengers are only permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage. Firearms must be unloaded then packed in a hard-sided locked case. The locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and gun owners have a duty to ensure they are not violating any local firearm laws. Additionally, contacting the respective airline could reveal any additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because 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 gun 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 a concealed carry permit does not allow a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.
Last year, 6,542 firearms were caught at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide. Eighty-eight percent of those guns were loaded.
Unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither? Download the free myTSA app, which has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that allows you to type in the item to find out if it can fly. Or ask on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA. Travelers may send a question by texting “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).