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Man arrested by police after TSA stops him from carrying a loaded handgun onto his flight at Elmira Corning Regional Airport

ELMIRA, N.Y. – A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer at Elmira Corning Regional Airport (ELM) prevented a Florida resident from bringing a loaded handgun onto his flight on Sunday, May 22. The 9mm handgun was loaded with nine bullets. It was the first gun detected by TSA officers at the airport’s checkpoint so far this year.

The gun was detected via the X-ray machine as the man was entering the security checkpoint with his carry-on items. TSA officials notified the Chemung County Sheriff’s Department who confiscated the gun and arrested the man on a New York State weapons charge.  

“This was a good catch on the part of our officers,” said Bart R. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for all Upstate New York airports. “It is the responsibility of all travelers to know the contents of their baggage whether that is a carry-on bag or checked bag. Claiming that an item such as a loaded gun that is inside your luggage does not belong to you is no excuse. Not only was this individual arrested, but he also faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty for carrying a gun to a security checkpoint.”

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

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 handgun 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 even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for 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 may lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2022, about 86 percent were loaded.

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