A Berks County man was arrested by police on Thursday, August 5, 2021, after Transportation Security Administration officers prevented him from carrying a loaded gun onto his flight at Lehigh Valley International Airport.
It was the second gun caught within a week at the airport and the third caught so far this year. One week earlier, TSA officers stopped a Quakertown man with a loaded gun.
TSA officers spotted the gun in the Hamburg man’s carry-on bag and alerted the airport authority police, who arrived at the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and arrested the man.
According to TSA, passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided locked case, and packed separately from ammunition. Then the locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared.
Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint.
Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on 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.
Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019 due to the pandemic.
The result was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.