A Brooklyn, N.Y., man was arrested by police after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers detected a loaded handgun and more than 100 bullets in the man’s carry-on bag at a LaGuardia Airport security checkpoint on Tuesday, April 25. The .22 caliber firearm was loaded with 10 bullets alongside two boxes of 50 bullets each for a total of 110 bullets.
The handgun was detected when the man entered the security checkpoint with his carry-on items. The checkpoint X-ray unit triggered an alarm, requiring that the carry-on items be more closely inspected, which is when the firearm and ammunition were removed. When the TSA officer spotted the gun, Port Authority Police were alerted, confiscated the weapon and arrested the man on a weapons charge. The man told officials that he had taken his bag to a shooting range and forgot that the gun and ammunition were in the bag when he took it with him to the airport. In addition to his arrest, the man also faces a stiff federal financial penalty. Federal penalties can reach as high as $15,000 for bringing a weapon to an airport checkpoint, depending on the circumstances.
“People carrying guns to our checkpoints represent a serious security and safety concern,” said Robert Duffy, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “The fact that the majority of people tell us that they forgot that they had their loaded gun with them is equally disconcerting. If you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times. That’s part of being a responsible gun owner,” he said. “In addition, bringing a loaded firearm to a security checkpoint slows down the individuals in that lane because everyone behind the gun owner has to shift to another lane, which increases the wait at that line,” Duffy explained. “Guns should never be brought to the security checkpoint in carry-on luggage.”
Two passengers who traveled through Washington Dulles International Airport in recent days are also facing penalties. TSA officers at the airport prevented a Florida man and a Virginia man from bringing their loaded handguns onto flights on Sunday, April 23, and Monday, April 24. Each weapon was caught as the men entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted on the carry-on bags and TSA officials notified the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police who came to the checkpoint, confiscated the guns and cited the men on weapons charges. The incidents were not related.
Meanwhile, during routine X-ray screening on April 13, TSA officers at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport spotted a club-like item in the carry-on bag of a traveler ticketed for travel to Hilo International Airport on the Island of Hawaii. The officers conducted a bag search, which led to the discovery of a collapsible baton. The bag was rescreened and the TSA officers subsequently discovered a knife concealed in a comb inside the carry-on bag. The traveler who owned the bag was screened through the body scanner, which alarmed on his lower left leg. A TSA officer asked the traveler if there was something on his leg and the traveler responded there was nothing on that part of his body. A targeted pat-down of that area revealed a butterfly knife was taped to his leg. The Hawaii State Sheriffs responded to the security checkpoint and cited the passenger on a state charge. All three prohibited items were abandoned to TSA.
On Tuesday, April 18 at Kahului International Airport on the Island of Maui, TSA officers were conducting routine X-ray screening of carry-on luggage in the security checkpoint when they spotted what appeared to be a plastic or ceramic knife in a cluttered bag. A subsequent bag search resulted in the discovery of a double-edge, ceramic knife. The officers gave the traveler who was ticketed on a flight to San Francisco International Airport the option of checking the knife with the airline. The traveler indicated he would do so and left the checkpoint before returning a few minutes later to be rescreened for his flight. Again the traveler triggered an alarm, this time in their waistband. A targeted pat-down of that area resulted in the discovery of the same ceramic knife.