A woman was caught with this loaded handgun in her carry-on bag at a Norfolk International Airport checkpoint on March 18. (TSA photo)

Weekly Update: TSA Firearm Detections

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport caught a man with a .357 caliber handgun loaded with 13 bullets at the checkpoint on March 17. It was the fourth gun that TSA officers have caught at the airport recently. They caught one gun on March 11 and two guns on March 12.

On March 17, 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, a resident of Fredericksburg, Virginia, for questioning before arresting him on weapons charges. He said that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him. He now faces a stiff federal financial penalty.

The same day, TSA officers at Philadelphia International Airport caught a woman with an unloaded 9mm handgun.  She claimed that she forgot that she had her gun with her.

At Pittsburgh International Airport the following morning, TSA officers caught a local woman with a .380 caliber handgun at the security checkpoint. It was the ninth handgun stopped by TSA officers at the airport so far this year. When the TSA officer spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Allegheny County Police were alerted, came to the checkpoint, questioned the woman and confiscated the gun. The woman, a resident of Pittsburgh, had the gun in a bag similar to the shape of a diaper bag and told officials that she had no idea it was in her bag. She now faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty for bringing a gun to the checkpoint.

“If you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “To stand there and tell us that you had no idea that you had a gun with you is absolutely inexcusable. It begs the question: ‘Where did you think it was?’ Travelers know where their wallets are, where their keys are, where they left their car. They should know where their guns are too.”

Also on March 18, TSA officers at Norfolk International Airport stopped a 9mm handgun and two boxes of ammunition from getting through the checkpoint. It was the fourth gun caught at the airport’s checkpoint so far this year. When the TSA officer detected the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Norfolk Airport Authority Police were alerted, responded to the checkpoint and confiscated the weapon from the Texas woman. The woman was arrested and the case was forwarded to the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney for possible criminal prosecution. The woman also faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty.

At the weekend, a Florida man was stopped by TSA officers at Yeager Airport on March 21, when they detected a 9mm handgun along with a gun magazine loaded with 15 bullets among the man’s carry-on items at the security checkpoint. TSA officials notified the Yeager Airport Police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and detained the man for questioning. The man now faces a federal financial civil penalty.

And TSA officers at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport reported that they have intercepted 25 guns – 22 of which were loaded – so far this year.  Five of those were stopped during the weekend on March 20-21.

Read guidance on how to correctly travel with a firearm at TSA

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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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