Don’t Fly With Your Gun

Don’t Fly With Your Gun

It is a well-known fact, and has been for several years, you don’t take a handgun on an airplane. Yet, people continue to pack a weapon in their carry-on luggage as though it is perfectly fine. You don’t even have to reach the fine print. Handguns now allowed on airplanes.

In Orlando, on June 12, TSA officers stopped 12 guns during the previous nine days at multiple airports across Florida. The guns were intercepted at security checkpoints in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Panama City, Destin-Ft. Walton Beach, Ft. Myers and Pensacola. As passenger volumes have increased, so have the numbers of passengers failing to leave their guns at home. Each of the guns was accompanied by ammunition; most were loaded.

Nine men and three women, aged 22 to 45, face a civil penalty from the TSA that may exceed $13,000, regardless of whether they were arrested by local police. Several of them were arrested. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has stopped 147 guns this year across the state of Florida.

A Jackson County, W.Va., woman was stopped by TSA officers at Huntington Tri-State Airport on Saturday, June 13, when they detected a 9 mm handgun in her carry-on bag. It was not loaded. TSA officials notified the local police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and detained the woman, a resident of Cottageville, W.Va., for questioning prior to citing her on weapons charges.

“There may be a pandemic, but our TSA officers remain vigilant in their duties,” said John Allen, TSA’s Federal Security Director for West Virginia. “During this pandemic, we are doing what we can to reduce touch-points to help prevent any cross-contamination, but when someone has a prohibited item in their carry-on bag, it means that our TSA officers are going to have to open that bag and go inside to remove it, thus creating additional touch-points.”

“Forgetting” you have a weapon in your carryon luggage isn’t confined to older travelers. A 17-year-old New Jersey resident was arrested by police after TSA officers at Philadelphia International Airport detected a 9 mm handgun loaded with 11 bullets, including one in the chamber, in his carry-on bag on Thursday, June 11.

The gun was spotted by a TSA officer when it appeared on the checkpoint X-ray monitor. It was located in a book bag. TSA contacted the Philadelphia Police, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the firearm and detained the young man, a resident of Newark, N.J., for questioning before arresting him on a weapons violation. The minor was traveling with his parents and his father accompanied him to the police station.

The youth told officials that he took the book bag from his ex-girlfriend’s car and said he did not realize that the gun was in the bag.

A New Hampshire, man was caught with a .45 caliber handgun loaded with eight bullets, including one in the chamber at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport on June 7. The gun was spotted at the airport’s checkpoint X-ray monitor. It was the second gun caught at the airport this year. Last year TSA officers stopped one gun at the airport checkpoint.

As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed firearm permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes. In addition, TSA has the authority to assess financial civil penalties for weapons.

TSA press releases report numerous handgun catches every week. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is the Publisher of Security Today magazine.

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