PORTLAND, ME – The Transportation Security Administration caught an Androscoggin County, Maine, man at the Portland International Jetport checkpoint this afternoon (Dec. 10) with a 9 mm handgun loaded with 12 bullets, including one in the chamber along with an additional magazine loaded with an additional 12 bullets.
The man, a resident of Poland, Maine, had the gun tucked in the outer pocket of a black canvas messenger bag. He told officials that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him.
A TSA officer spotted the man’s gun when his carry-on belongings entered the checkpoint X-ray machine. Airport police were contacted, arrived at the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and detained the man for questioning. He was eventually permitted to return the firearm to his vehicle and then return to catch his flight. It marked the third gun caught at the airport checkpoint so far this year.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only 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, then 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.