A Newark, N.J., man was arrested by police after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Newark Liberty International Airport stopped him with a 9mm handgun in his backpack on Saturday, April 1. The firearm was loaded with eight hollow-point bullets.
When the TSA officer spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine in Terminal C, Port Authority Police were alerted, came to the checkpoint and confiscated the weapon from the man before arresting him on weapons charges.
The man was employed by a company at the airport and his employee badge was confiscated at the time of the incident. He is no longer employed at the airport.
“This was a good catch on the part of our TSA officers, who remain vigilant during this busy spring travel period,” said Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey. “Individuals who work at the airport are subject to the same robust security screening procedures as travelers. Any time dangerous items are presented in the screening checkpoint, we have serious safety concerns for all in the area, and the resolution disrupts the process for the passengers waiting behind the offender.”
Meanwhile, TSA officers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport found two loaded firearms and a BB gun in travelers’ carry-on luggage on April 6. All of the discoveries occurred in less than 90 minutes during routine screening at the airport’s security checkpoints. There is no indication any of the gun discoveries are linked.
The first firearm – a .45 caliber Smith & Wesson M&P handgun – was discovered at 8 a.m. in the carry-on bag of a 59-year-old male traveler ticketed for travel to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The gun was loaded with seven rounds of ammunition.
The second firearm discovery occurred at 8:20 a.m. when TSA officers discovered a 9 mm Sig Sauer P365 handgun loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition. The passenger, a 31-year-old female, was ticketed for travel to Nashville International Airport.
Finally, at 9:20 a.m., a BB gun was found in the carry-on bag of a traveler headed to Kahului International Airport on the Island of Maui.
In each incident, TSA notified officers with the Port of Seattle Police Department who responded to the security checkpoint. A law enforcement officer removed the firearm from the X-ray tunnel and made contact with the travelers. What happens to the firearm and the travelers is up to the discretion of the airport law enforcement agency. So far in 2023, TSA officers at Seattle-Tacoma have detected 30 firearms in carry-on luggage.
TSA also recently reported that passengers at El Paso International Airport continue to bring a record number of guns to the security checkpoints. As of April 2, TSA officers at the airport have prevented 12 guns from making it onboard airplanes in traveler’s carry-on luggage. The most recent, on April 2, was loaded with five rounds.
In every case, El Paso Police Department was called to respond and adjudicate the incident. “The TSA officers in El Paso perform their jobs exceptionally well,” said Jared Babin, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “When dangerous items such as loaded guns are brought to a security checkpoint, it represents a serious security and safety concern. Individuals are not permitted to carry a firearm through a security checkpoint— not someone with a concealed weapons permit, not someone who is enrolled in TSA PreCheck, not an airport worker and not a traveler who forgot that he had it with him. Passengers should know exactly where their gun is before they enter the airport and make sure that it is not in a backpack, purse, suitcase or any carry-on that you plan to bring into the security checkpoint.”
On April 2, officers at Westchester County Airport prevented a Florida man from bringing his loaded handgun onto his flight. The man’s 9mm handgun was loaded with 10 bullets including one in the chamber. He also had two additional gun magazines loaded with 20 more bullets packed alongside the firearm. The gun was caught as the man entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted the TSA officer to inspect the contents of the carry-on bag. The firearm was removed by the local police who confiscated the gun and ammunition and arrested the man on a weapons charge.
On April 3, a man was cited by police after TSA officers at West Virginia International Yeager Airport detected a loaded handgun at the security checkpoint. The 9mm handgun was loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber. When the TSA officer spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, airport police were alerted, came to the checkpoint and confiscated the weapon from the traveler, a resident of Bowden, W.Va. Police also cited the man on a weapons charge.
Officers at Norfolk International Airport prevented a Virginia Beach, Va., man from bringing his loaded .45 caliber handgun onto his flight on Wednesday, April 5. The gun was loaded with seven bullets. The gun was caught as the man entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted on the carry-on bag, which required a closer inspection. The firearm was removed by the local police, who arrested the man on state charges. The case will be forwarded to the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney for possible criminal prosecution.
There are stiff financial civil penalties for bringing a gun to a TSA security checkpoint. The penalty for carrying weapons recently increased to a maximum of $15,000.