TSA officers prevent local woman from bringing loaded gun onto flight at Harrisburg International Airport

Local Press Release
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
This loaded handgun inside a traveler’s carry-on bag was detected by TSA officers at Harrisburg International Airport on May, 23. (TSA photo)

HARRISBURG, Pa. – A Harrisburg, Pa., woman was stopped by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Harrisburg International Airport yesterday (May 23) when they detected a handgun in the woman’s carry-on bag. The 9mm gun was loaded with six bullets.

The gun was caught as the woman entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted the TSA officer to check the carry-on bag, which was opened by police for a closer inspection.  

Guns are not permitted through the security checkpoint and now the woman faces a stiff financial civil penalty from TSA. The penalty for carrying weapons can reach a maximum of $15,000.

“The Memorial Day holiday may be several days away, but the summer holiday travel season has started,” said Karen Keys Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Our officers are good at their jobs and are staying vigilant to keep all travelers safe and secure. Airports are congested, people are eager to travel and this is no time to be carrying prohibited or illegal items in your carry-on bag. Gun owners have a responsibility to know where their firearms are at all times and know that they should not be in a carry-on bag,” Keys Turner added. “It is concerning that most people who are stopped at TSA checkpoints with a firearm tell us that they forgot that they had it with them. Travelers need to come to the airport prepared to go through the security screening process and that means knowing the contents of their carry-on bags and knowing that there are no prohibited items inside.”

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.

TSA firearms caught at TSA checkpoints at Harrisburg International Airport, 2017 to 2023









(As of 5/23/23)

Guns caught at the Harrisburg International Airport checkpoint








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).