A Florida man was stopped by TSA yesterday (November 6) morning at an Ithaca airport checkpoint, after an x-ray monitor discovered a handgun and bullets inside his carry-on bag.
TSA officials say the gun was located tucked inside the man’s backpack, along with a loaded magazine containing seven bullets.
Officers with the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office to the scene to confiscate the handgun and detain the man for questioning.
According to investigators, he claimed the gun belonged to one of his friends and that he didn’t know it was in his bag.
Last year, more than 4,200 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging out to about 11.6 per day (a 7% increase over 2017).
Eighty-six percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded and nearly 34% had a bullet in the chamber.
“Bringing a handgun and ammunition to an airport to take a flight and not knowing it is with you is both careless and dangerous, no matter what the circumstances are,” said Bart R. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Upstate New York. “Fortunately, our dedicated officers do a great job in actively seeking prohibited items, and they prevented this handgun from getting on an aircraft. Their commitment ensured a secure flight for both passengers and crew I appreciate the dedication of these fine officers and I also appreciate the prompt response and actions of the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office.”
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-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed carry permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes. In addition, TSA has the authority to access civil penalties of up to $13,000. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100.
The complete list of penalties is posted online.
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 contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.