A Transportation Security Administration officer at Harrisburg International Airport stopped a Reading man with a loaded gun at the airport security checkpoint on Sunday, August 15, 2022. The man, a resident of Reading, was found with a 9mm caliber handgun loaded with nine bullets.
When the TSA officer spotted the gun and ammunition in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the police were alerted. TSA also forwarded the incident to be followed up with the issuance of a federal financial civil penalty.
“This individual told our TSA officers that he forgot that he had his gun with him,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “If you own a firearm, it is your responsibility to know where it is at all times. Not knowing that you are carrying a handgun is an accident waiting to happen. He now faces a stiff financial civil penalty and his claim to have forgotten that he had a gun is going to cost him.”
TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty of up to $13,900 to individuals who bring weapons with them to a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating or aggravating 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. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.
Travelers are allowed to transport their firearms as checked baggage if they are properly packed and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane.
Checked firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and travelers should check into firearm laws before they decide to travel with their guns. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. Guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.
Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2022, about 86 percent were loaded.