HARRISBURG, Pa. – Transportation Security Administration officers at Harrisburg International Airport have stopped two men from bringing guns onto airplanes within the last three days. It marked the third and fourth guns caught at the checkpoint so far this year. TSA officers detected six guns at the airport last year.
This morning, a Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, man was caught by TSA officers with a loaded .40 caliber handgun in his backpack as he was entering the security checkpoint. And on Monday, September 23, a Salt Lake City, Utah, resident was cited by police after TSA officers caught him trying to bring a handgun and a stash of ammunition past a security checkpoint. TSA officers caught him with a 9 mm handgun, two magazine clips loaded with 14 bullets and a box of 50 additional bullets in his carry-on bag as it entered the checkpoint X-ray machine. His gun was not loaded.
In each instance, TSA officers notified the Susquehanna Area Regional Airport Authority Police, which came to the checkpoint and cited the men on weapons charges.
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 $4,100. 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.