COLONIE, N.Y. – Travelers continue to show up at Upstate New York airport checkpoints with firearms and the Transportation Security Administration and the Albany County Sheriff’s Department want to remind travelers that there is a right way and a wrong way to travel with a firearm on an airplane. The wrong way is to bring a firearm to a checkpoint. The right way is to declare the firearm with your airline.
Passengers are responsible for the contents of bags they bring to the security checkpoint and the best advice for passengers is to look through bags thoroughly before coming to the airport to make sure there are no illegal or prohibited items.
Weapons—including firearms, firearm parts and ammunition—are not permitted in carry-on bags, but can be transported in checked bags if they are unloaded, properly packed and declared to the airline.
“Individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement,” says TSA’s Upstate New York federal security director Bart R. Johnson. “Even travelers with firearm permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes. In addition, TSA has the authority to assess civil penalties of up to $13,000 for weapons violations. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900.” The complete list of penalties is posted online.
Altogether, 3,957 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the nation in 2017, averaging about 11 firearms per day, approximately a 17 percent increase in firearm discoveries from the total of 3,391 detected in 2016. Eighty-four percent of the guns caught in 2017 were loaded.
The proper way to pack a firearm is unloaded, packed in a hard-side case and locked. Ammunition cannot be loose or in a zip-top bag. Ammunition must be in its original container/box, even if the box is partially full, and the ammunition should be placed inside the hard-side case next to the unloaded firearm. It is important to remember that firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and so travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.
Firearm owners also are reminded to check their pockets, knapsacks and other carry-on items for a stray bullet that may be loose in a coat pocket or knapsack compartment as even single bullets are prohibited past the checkpoint and can slow down the screening process.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its web site. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screens approximately 2.5 million passengers and their luggage every day for prohibited items, including weapons and explosives. To do this, TSA uses imaging technology to safely screen passengers for any items which may be concealed under clothing, while X-ray units screen all carry-on baggage.
TSA Firearms Caught at Upstate NY Airports
Number of Firearms Caught in 2017
Number of Firearms Caught in 2018
(As of 7-26-18)
Albany International Airport
Greater Rochester International Airport
Syracuse-Hancock International Airport
Buffalo-Niagara International Airport
Niagara Falls International Airport