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Latest Firearm Catch at Boston Logan Surpasses 2019 Total

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers have stopped another passenger from carrying a loaded firearm onto an airplane on Wednesday at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS).

On August 31 during security screening, TSA officers detected a firearm in a passenger’s carry-on bag. Massachusetts State Police (MSP) responded and discovered the 9mm firearm was loaded. MSP confiscated the firearm and cited the man on a state charge. He was allowed to continue to Florida.

“Once again our officers are on top of preventing firearms from entering the secure area of the airport,” said Bob Allison, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Massachusetts. “Carelessly traveling with a loaded firearm is dangerous and a public safety concern, considering it could accidentally be discharged during a search. Gun owners need to ensure they know where their firearm is before traveling to the airport.”

TSA officers have now detected 19 firearms at BOS security checkpoints this year, 16 of which have been loaded. This marks the highest amount of firearm detections at BOS since 2018. In total there have been 26 firearm detections at New England security checkpoints in 2022.

TSA officials are also concerned about the frequency that they are seeing travelers carry handguns to security checkpoints at El Paso International Airport (ELP). Most of those guns are also found to be loaded.

“The most common excuse we hear is that someone forgot that they had their gun with them,” said Jared Babin, TSA’s Federal Security Director for ELP. “Although plausible, if you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times. It’s part of being a responsible gun owner.”

The TSA team at West Texas airport detected 25 guns at the security checkpoints in 2021. TSA officers at El Paso airport have stopped 22 guns, so far in 2022. 

“As we approach a busy holiday travel weekend and we would like everyone to have the best experience possible when traveling through our airport. We encourage the traveling public to take just a few minutes to give your baggage a second look before you come to the airport to save you the stress and expense of packing incorrectly,” said Sam Rodriguez, Director of Aviation at ELP.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) is also seeing a high number of firearms at the checkpoint this year. The TSA team at AUS detected 110 guns at the security checkpoints in 2021, and in 2022 TSA officers at AUS Airport have already stopped 100 guns from making it onto airplanes.  

Gilbert Almaraz, TSA’s Federal Security Director at AUS said carelessly traveling with a loaded firearm is a public safety concern and it could accidentally be discharged during a search, causing harm to the TSA officer and, potentially, others nearby. 

Elsewhere last week, a man was stopped at the TSA security checkpoint at Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport after security officers spotted a firearm in his carry-on bag on August 27. It was the second gun that security officials have detected at the airport checkpoint so far this year. The .45 caliber firearm was not loaded; however, it was packed alongside a large manila envelope containing 18 bullets along with an empty gun magazine.

A Williamsburg, Va., resident was issued a summons by the police after TSA officers at Richmond International Airport caught him with a handgun in his carry-on bag on August 24. The 9mm handgun was loaded with 12 bullets. It was the 13th gun caught at one of the airport checkpoints so far this year. TSA officers stopped the man when his carry-on bag triggered an alarm in the security checkpoint X-ray unit. Upon spotting the weapon, TSA alerted airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and issued him a summons on a weapons violation.  

The same day, a TSA officer prevented a man from carrying his loaded handgun onto a flight at New York Stewart International Airport. The .357 revolver was loaded with five bullets. The TSA officer spotted the handgun on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor as the man’s belongings entered the X-ray unit. TSA immediately alerted the New York State Police, who responded to the checkpoint. The man told officials that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him. The police allowed the man to leave the airport with his firearm. It was the third gun that the TSA team has stopped at the airport’s security checkpoint so far this year. He also faces a federal civil penalty for bringing a gun to an airport security checkpoint.

On August 23, a resident of Indiana was cited by police after TSA officers detected a 9mm handgun among his carry-on items at a security checkpoint at Philadelphia International Airport. The gun was not loaded. It was the 24th gun that officers have caught at one of the airport checkpoints so far this year. When the TSA officers spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Philadelphia Police were alerted, confiscated the gun and detained the man for questioning before arresting him. TSA forwarded the incident to be followed up with the issuance of a federal financial civil penalty.

Also on August 23, a Florida resident was arrested by police after TSA officers prevented him from carrying his loaded handgun onto his flight at LaGuardia Airport. The .380 caliber handgun was loaded with seven bullets. A TSA officer spotted the handgun on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor as the West Palm Beach, Fl., resident’s belongings entered the X-ray unit. TSA immediately alerted the Port Authority Police, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and detained the man for questioning before arresting him on a weapons charge. In addition to being arrested, the man also faces a stiff federal civil penalty for bringing a gun to an airport security checkpoint.

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded gun into a checkpoint is $4,100 and can go as high as $13,669 depending on any mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed separately from ammunition in a locked hardback case and declared at the airline check-in counter.  

Read more about the correct way to travel with a firearm at TSA

Kylie Bielby
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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