Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers detected a loaded 9mm caliber handgun in the backpack of an individual who works at Philadelphia International Airport as he entered the security checkpoint on November 11. It marked the 23rd gun that TSA officers have caught at the airport checkpoints–three more than were caught during 2019.
It is also the second time recently that officers at Philadelphia International have stopped an airport worker with a firearm. On October 30, a contract employee was stopped by TSA officers who found he had a loaded gun after conducting a swab of his hands via random inspections.
On November 11, TSA officers alerted the Philadelphia Police, who arrived at the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and arrested the man.
“Employees who work at the airport should know better than to bring a weapon to the airport,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Philadelphia International Airport. “Under no circumstances should anyone ever bring a gun to a checkpoint. Period.”
There have also been a number of travelers who do not work at airports trying to board flights with firearms in their carry-on bags in the past week.
TSA officers at Buffalo Niagara International Airport caught a Monroe County, New York, man with a .22 caliber handgun loaded with five bullets in his carry-on bag on November 9. A TSA officer spotted the handgun on the X-ray monitor as the carry-on bag entered the X-ray machine. Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) Police were alerted and responded to the checkpoint. The police took possession of the gun and cited the man, a resident of Brockport, New York. The man claimed that he lost his loaded gun four years ago and did not realize that it was in his carry-on bag. He surrendered the firearm to NFTA Police for documentation and destruction.
TSA urges travelers to unpack before they pack, which would avoid bringing a firearm to the checkpoint that has been in the bag for some time. This is especially timely as people have chosen to travel by car more often than usual due to the pandemic.
On November 12, two travelers were stopped at Detroit Metropolitan Airport as TSA officers detected firearms in their carry-on bags. Both incidents involved loaded 9mm handguns. TSA officials immediately alerted the Wayne County Airport Police, and officers responded to the checkpoints, removed the female travelers and confiscated the weapons. The incidents were not related. The first incident occurred around 11:00 a.m. and the second occurred around 3:15 p.m.
Earlier the same day, TSA officers had stopped a woman from carrying a loaded .380 caliber handgun and a magazine with seven bullets onto an airplane at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. At approximately 6:30 a.m., a TSA officer detected the gun in the local woman’s belongings. TSA officials immediately alerted the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department and a deputy responded who removed the passenger and weapon away from the checkpoint.
At the weekend, a Virginia man’s honeymoon got off on the wrong foot when he was arrested by police after a TSA officer detected a loaded handgun in the man’s carry-on bag at Richmond International Airport on November 14. The TSA officer spotted the 9 mm handgun loaded with eight bullets, including one in the chamber as the man’s belongings entered the security checkpoint X-ray machine. TSA alerted airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and arrested the man, who was ticketed to fly to Hawaii for his honeymoon with his wife. He claimed that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him. This was the 18th firearm detected at the airport so far this year, surpassing last year’s total of 14.
On Sunday, November 15, TSA officers at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport caught a North Carolina resident with a 9mm handgun loaded with six bullets at the checkpoint. A TSA officer spotted the handgun in the man’s carry-on bag while it was inside the checkpoint X-ray machine. TSA immediately alerted the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, who arrived at the checkpoint, confiscated the firearm and detained the man for questioning before arresting him on weapons charges. The man claimed that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him. He now faces a stiff federal financial penalty.
Also on Sunday, TSA officers detected and prevented two handguns from making their way into the passenger cabin of airplanes at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.
In both incidents, TSA officials immediately alerted the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Police, and officers responded to the checkpoints, removed the male travelers and confiscated the weapons. The incidents were not related. The first incident occurred around 5:45 a.m. and the second occurred around 12:45 p.m.
Because gun sales have soared this year, many new owners are not familiar with the guidelines for traveling with firearms. TSA urges them, and everyone who intends to travel with a firearm, to check the rules before they fly.