TSA officers at Yeager Airport discovered this handgun loaded with seven bullets on Saturday, June 19. (TSA photo)

Weekly Update: TSA Firearm Detections

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers recently stopped two men from carrying loaded handguns onto airplanes at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport in unrelated events. On Friday, June 11, at approximately 1:30 p.m, TSA officers discovered a loaded firearm in a man’s carry-on baggage. Then, at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 14, a TSA officer detected a loaded gun in another man’s belongings. In both incidents, TSA officials immediately alerted the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department and deputies responded who removed the passengers and weapons away from the checkpoint.

On June 16, TSA officers prevented a Philadelphia woman from carrying her loaded gun onto a flight out of Philadelphia International Airport. When TSA officers spotted the gun in the security checkpoint X-ray machine, they alerted Philadelphia Police, who arrested the woman on weapons charges. The gun was a .32 caliber weapon loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber. In addition to the arrest, the woman also faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty for carrying a loaded gun to an airport checkpoint.  

TSA officers at Richmond International Airport prevented a Chesterfield County, Virginia, woman from carrying a loaded handgun onto her flight on June 18. The gun, loaded with six bullets, was detected in the X-ray machine among her carry-on items at the security checkpoint. TSA alerted police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and cited the woman on weapons charges. In addition to being arrested by the police, she also faces a federal financial civil penalty.

The same day, TSA officers at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport prevented a man from carrying a loaded handgun onto his flight. The gun, loaded with 10 bullets including one in the chamber, was the first caught at the airport this year and was detected in the X-ray machine among the Kentucky man’s carry-on items at the security checkpoint. TSA alerted police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and cited the man, a resident of Louisville, Kentucky, on weapons charges. He also faces a federal financial civil penalty. It was the first gun caught at the airport this year.  

Also on June 18 an Albuquerque, New Mexico resident was prevented from carrying a .32 caliber handgun onto her flight from Pittsburgh International Airport. The gun was not loaded. When the TSA officer spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Allegheny County Police were alerted, came to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and questioned the woman. This was the 15th firearm caught at the airport’s checkpoints this year, 21 were caught in 2020 and 35 in 2019.

At the weekend, TSA officers stopped a passenger from carrying a loaded .22 caliber firearm onto his flight at Yeager Airport on June 19. The firearm was loaded with seven bullets. It was the second one detected at the airport this year. Once TSA officers discovered the loaded handgun, they immediately notified the police, who responded to the checkpoint. The man, a resident of Charleston, West Virginia, now faces a possible federal civil penalty for bringing a loaded gun to an airport security checkpoint.

Travelers are not permitted to carry their guns onto airplanes, however, passengers are allowed to transport their firearms as checked baggage if they are properly packed and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane. Checked firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. 

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.

Find out more about traveling with firearms 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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