On Monday Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that officers at John F. Kennedy International Airport prevented a Greenwich woman from bringing her loaded handgun through a security checkpoint on Friday.
The .22 caliber gun was loaded with nine bullets, including one in the chamber. The woman was arrested by Port Authority Police.
The woman was not ticketed to fly. She received a “gate pass” from the airline to allow her to escort her minor child through the checkpoint and to their gate. However, she was prevented from doing so once the TSA officers detected the gun and the police notified.
The gun was caught as the woman entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted on the carry-on bag, which required a closer inspection. The firearm was removed by the Port Authority Police who confiscated the gun and arrested her on weapons charges.
In addition to being arrested, she now faces a stiff financial civil penalty for bringing a gun to a TSA security checkpoint. The penalty for carrying weapons recently increased to a maximum of $15,000.
“Our TSA team at JFK perform their jobs exceptionally well with a keen focus to our mission,” said John Essig, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport in a relase. “When dangerous items such as loaded guns are brought to a security checkpoint, it represents a serious safety concern. When a bullet is in the chamber of the firearm, it is an accident waiting to happen. Nobody is permitted to carry a firearm through a checkpoint—not a gate pass holder, not someone with a concealed weapons permit, not a traveler.”
This was the first firearm that TSA has detected at the airport so far this year. Last year, TSA officers prevented seven firearms from getting through checkpoints at JFK Airport. All of them were loaded. Last year, 6,542 firearms were caught at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide. Eighty-eight percent of those guns were loaded.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage. Firearms must be unloaded then packed in a hard-sided locked case. The locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and gun owners have a duty to ensure they are not violating any local firearm laws. Additionally, contacting the respective airline could reveal any additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
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 gun 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 a concealed carry permit does not allow a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.
Unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither? Download the free myTSA app, which has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that allows you to type in the item to find out if it can fly. Or ask on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA. Travelers may send a question by texting “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).