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Weekly Update: TSA Firearm Detections for Week 33

'I forgot it was in my carry-on luggage, is not a valid excuse to bring a gun to the airport,' said Austin’s TSA Federal Security Director Michael Scott.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers prevented three handguns from going onboard airplanes at Austin Bergstrom International Airport in one day last week.

On August 19, the first incident occurred at 7:34 a.m., when a TSA officer spotted the image of a handgun on the X-ray screen during the routine screening of carry-on luggage. TSA officials immediately alerted the Austin Police Department. The firearm was loaded with six rounds, none chambered. The traveler stated he was on vacation and forgot the gun was in his carry-on luggage.

A second gun was found at approximately 2:55 p.m., when an officer saw an image of a handgun during airport security screening and alerted the Austin Police Department. The passenger stated he was in a rush and forgot the gun was in his carry-on. Police officers discovered a loaded .22 caliber gun with 15 rounds of ammo, one chambered.

The third gun found at Austin Bergstrom International on August 19 was detected at 5:58 p.m. during checkpoint security screening. Once again, Austin Police Department officers were called to respond to the incident. Again, the passenger stated she forgot the gun was in her carry-on luggage. In this incident, officers discovered a loaded 9 mm gun with 4 rounds of ammo, none chambered.

“I forgot it was in my carry-on luggage, is not a valid excuse to bring a gun to the airport,” said Austin’s TSA Federal Security Director Michael Scott. “We want to remind everyone planning to fly out of Austin to carefully inspect your bag before you pack it and head to the airport.”

Also on August 19, TSA officers at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport prevented another handgun from making its way onboard an airplane. During the routine screening of carry-on luggage, a TSA officer spotted the image of a handgun on the X-ray screen. The incident occurred around 9 p.m., and TSA officials immediately alerted the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office. The firearm was loaded with 17 rounds, one chambered. The traveler, a West Allis resident, had a concealed-carry permit. A deputy responded to the checkpoint, escorted the passenger to the airport sheriff’s substation, and issued a citation. This was the third gun stopped at Milwaukee Mitchell International in nine days and TSA officers at the airport then stopped the 16th gun of 2021 on Sunday, August 22, equaling the same number caught in all of 2019. In 2020, which saw far fewer passengers because of the pandemic, 10 guns were detected at Milwaukee Mitchell International’s checkpoints.

Earlier in the week, TSA officers stopped a firearm from making its way onboard an airplane at Akron-Canton Airport on August 16. The incident occurred around 8:15 a.m., and TSA officials immediately alerted the Summit County Sheriff’s Department. The firearm was loaded with 13 rounds, with none in the chamber. Officers responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon, and escorted the passenger away from the checkpoint for further questioning. The passenger has a valid Ohio concealed carry permit and stated he didn’t realize his firearm was in the bag. This is the third firearm detected at Akron-Canton this year, equal to the total stopped in all of 2019. Four firearms were detected at the airport’s checkpoints in 2020.

At the weekend, a Hawaii resident was stopped with a handgun at a TSA security checkpoint in Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday, August 21. A TSA officer stopped the man with an unloaded antique gun inside his carry-on bag when the carry-on bag entered a checkpoint X-ray unit. The man told officials that it was his father’s gun and he forgot that it was inside his carry-on bag. Police permitted the man to leave the airport to secure the weapon.

The same day, a Florida man was arrested after TSA officers caught him with a loaded handgun at one of the John F. Kennedy International Airport security checkpoints. TSA officials alerted the Port Authority Police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun, and arrested him on local weapons charges. In addition to his arrest, the man also faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty for bringing a gun to a security checkpoint.

On Sunday, August 22, TSA officers at Washington Dulles International Airport prevented a Herndon, Virginia, resident from bringing a .380 caliber handgun loaded with six bullets onto his flight. TSA alerted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police who confiscated the gun and cited the man on weapons charges. He also faces a stiff federal financial penalty for carrying a gun to a TSA checkpoint.

Bringing weapons 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 knives 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 will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

 

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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