PHILADELPHIA – A Chester County, Pennsylvania, woman and a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, man were stopped by Transportation Security Administration officers at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) this past weekend, when they detected a handgun in the carry-on bag of each traveler.
The woman, a resident of Kennett Square in Chester County, was stopped at a security checkpoint on Saturday, June 22, with a bright purple 9 mm handgun loaded with six bullets in her carry-on bag. On Sunday, June 23, a resident of Landsdale in Montgomery County, was stopped with a 9 mm handgun along with a magazine that had five bullets in it. His gun was also detected in a carry-on bag. The incidents were not related.
In each instance, TSA contacted the Philadelphia Police Department, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the firearms and detained the individuals for questioning before arresting them.
The gun catches marked the ninth and tenth guns caught by TSA officers at airport checkpoints so far this calendar year.
Guns caught in 2018
Guns caught in 2019
(As of June 23, 2019)
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
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.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.
Nationwide last year, 4,239 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 11.6 firearms per day, approximately a 7% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 3,957 detected in 2017. Eighty-six percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded and nearly 34% had a bullet in the chamber.
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed firearm permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes in their carry-on bags. If an individual is a TSA Pre✓® member, that person could even lose TSA Pre✓® status. In addition, TSA has the authority to assess civil penalties of up to $13,333 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.
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.