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TSA stops local resident with handgun at Philadelphia International Airport

PHILADELPHIA – A resident of Philadelphia was stopped with his gun among his carry-on items when a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer at Philadelphia International Airport saw the 9mm weapon show up on the security checkpoint X-ray monitor on Tuesday, Nov. 29.  

When the TSA officer spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Philadelphia Police were alerted and allowed the man to return to the airline counter to properly declare and check the gun with the airport so that it would be transported properly and safely in the belly of the aircraft. TSA forwarded the incident to be followed up with the issuance of a federal financial civil penalty.

“This individual had the proper paperwork and carrying case for his firearm, but he made a big mistake when he brought it to the security checkpoint when he should have taken it to the airline check-in counter to be declared and transported properly for his flight,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Philadelphia International Airport. “It is important to know that you can travel with your firearm when it is done correctly, however bringing it to a checkpoint is never allowed because passengers should not have access to firearms during their flight. Hopefully this incident serves as a reminder to other firearm owners about the proper way to transport their firearm because we have seen too many guns showing up at our security checkpoints this year.”

Travelers are allowed to transport their firearms as checked baggage to be transported in the belly of the plane so that nobody has access to a gun during a flight. Checked firearms must be unloaded, placed in a hard-sided case, locked and packed separately from ammunition. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and travelers should check into firearm laws before they decide to travel with their guns. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

TSA reserves the right to issue a stiff civil penalty to individuals who bring weapons with them to a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating or aggravating 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 into an airport or onto an airplane. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

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.

TSA firearms caught at PHL Airport checkpoints, 2017 to 2022

Year

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

(as of 11293/22)

Guns caught at PHL checkpoints

35

25

20

26

39

41

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 2021, about 86 percent were loaded.

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