A Pennsylvania man was arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday March 24 after a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer detected a .38 special handgun in his carry-on bag. The gun was loaded with five hollow-point bullets, which are designed to expand when they enter the target to cause significant damage to body tissue, thus resulting more harm than other bullets.
This marks the seventh gun that TSA officers have caught at the airport so far this calendar year and was the second gun caught by TSA officers at the airport within a five-day span. Another gun was detected by officers on March 24th.
“This is an incredibly disturbing trend when you consider that six guns were detected at the Newark checkpoints throughout all 12 months of 2017, and we’ve now seen us exceed that number in just the first three months of 2018,” said TSA’s New Jersey Federal Security Director Thomas Carter. “Make no mistake, our TSA officers are good at what they do, and they know how to detect firearms. If you own a firearm, you should never bring it to a checkpoint. Even if you have a gun permit, you are not allowed to bring your gun onto an airplane. A firearm can travel on a plane only if it is properly packed and declared at the airline check-in counter so that it gets stored in the belly of the plane, never in the cabin of the plane.”
A TSA officer who was staffing the checkpoint x-ray monitor detected the handgun as the Buck’s County, Pennsylvania, resident’s carry-on items entered the x-ray machine. TSA officers immediately contacted the Port Authority Police Department, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and arrested the man on state weapons charges. The man, a resident of Barto, Pennsylvania, told TSA officials that he forgot that he had his loaded gun in his carry-on bag. It is one of the most common excuses that people make when they are caught with a firearm at a checkpoint. “If you own a gun, you should know where it is at all times,” and never bring it to the airport checkpoint, Carter said.
As a reminder, individuals who bring weapons to the checkpoint are subject to federal civil penalties of up to $13,000. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900. 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 TSA’s penalties is posted online here.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-side case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its web site here. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.