A Florida man was arrested on November 27 at Syracuse Hancock International Airport after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at the airport spotted a .32 caliber handgun loaded with seven bullets in his carry-on bag—the second time in three weeks that the same man has been caught with a loaded gun at an airport checkpoint in New York State. He also was in possession of a box with 41 additional bullets in it.
The TSA officer, who spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, contacted the Syracuse Police, who arrived at the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and detained the man for questioning, before arresting him on a weapons charge. Like last time, he claimed that he did not know that he had his loaded gun with him.
The same man was caught with a loaded 9 mm handgun three weeks earlier, on November 6, at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport.
“It’s absolutely inexcusable for someone to forget that they are bringing a loaded gun to an airport 21 days after being caught making the identical mistake at the Ithaca Airport,” said Bart R. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Upstate New York. “Bringing a loaded handgun to a checkpoint that is congested with holiday travelers, families and children is both careless and reckless.” Johnson added, “You can be assured that in addition to the arrest, he will face thousands of dollars in a civil penalty.
“This incident occurred the day before Thanksgiving, which is one of the busiest travel days of the year,” Johnson said. “Fortunately, our TSA officers are very good at their jobs and are actively seeking prohibited items to ensure a secure flight for passengers and crew.”
“I commend the TSA officers who were involved it stopping this threat for a job well done. I would also like to thank the Syracuse Police Department for its swift response and arrest of this individual,” Johnson said.
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. 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.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.