TSA officers at Greenville Spartanburg detected a loaded Century Arms RAS47 semi-automatic rifle packed in a bag along with illegal drugs.

Weekly Update: TSA Firearm Detections

Transportation Security Administration officers at Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP) and Lambert St. Louis (STL) international airports discovered a total of twelve loaded firearms at security checkpoints in August – six at each airport. 

Notable incidents at GSP in August included the discovery of two loaded handguns in the passenger’s carry-on bag on August 14, and the detection of a loaded Century Arms RAS47 semi-automatic rifle packed in a bag along with illegal drugs on August 17. In each instance, TSA notified local law enforcement, who removed the passenger and the firearms from the checkpoint area.

While firearms may be transported in checked baggage (provided they are declared to the airline, in a proper carrying case and unloaded), they are prohibited in carry-on bags.

Nine firearms have been detected by TSA officers at the GSP security checkpoint to date in 2020. A total of 23 were detected there last year.

Meanwhile, officers at STL discovered six loaded firearms passenger carry-on bags throughout August. They notified local law enforcement, who removed the passengers and the firearms from the checkpoint area. STL TSA officers have detected 29 firearms at checkpoints to date in 2020. A total of 57 were detected there last year.

Last week, TSA officers stopped four separate individuals from bringing a handgun onto an airplane within a seven-day span at Philadelphia International Airport. In each instance, the Philadelphia police responded, confiscated the weapons and filed criminal charges against the travelers. The latest incident, which took place on September 2, an Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, man brought a loaded 9 mm handgun with him to one of the checkpoints. The man told officials that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him.

The same day, a TSA officer caught a Butler County, Pennsylvania man with a 9 mm handgun loaded with 15 bullets in his carry-on bag at Pittsburgh International Airport.  The airport’s TSA officers then caught an Erie County, Pennsylvania, man with a .380 caliber handgun loaded with six bullets in his backpack on September 4. In both cases, the officers spotted the handgun on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor. TSA immediately alerted the Allegheny County Police, which responded to the checkpoint. The men are facing stiff federal civil penalties.

On September 3, TSA officers stopped a Salem, Virginia, man from carrying a .22 caliber handgun onto an airplane at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. It was loaded with five bullets. Officers detected the gun in the man’s carry-on bag and immediately alerted the airport police, who responded to the checkpoint and confiscated the weapon.

Also on the 3rd, TSA officers stopped a Fauquier County, Virginia, man from carrying a .380 caliber handgun onto an airplane at Richmond International Airport. It was loaded with six bullets and an additional magazine with six more bullets was also detected in the man’s possession. TSA officials detected the gun in the man’s carry-on bag and immediately alerted the airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and detained the man for questioning before issuing him a summons with a court date as a result of the incident.

An Arizona man was stopped by TSA officers at the Eastern Iowa Airport on September 6, when they detected a 9 mm handgun in his carry-on bag. Three magazines loaded with a total of 40 bullets were also detected with the gun. TSA officials notified the local police, who responded to the checkpoint and briefly detained the man for questioning before allowing him to return the gun to his vehicle. It was the third gun that TSA officers had detected at the Eastern Iowa checkpoint so far this year.

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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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