December 20, 2022
EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–A Florida man was arrested by police on Sunday, Dec. 18, after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped him with a loaded .380 caliber handgun in his carry-on bag at the Trenton-Mercer Airport security checkpoint. The man also was in possession of two loaded gun magazines and a pellet gun. Like firearms, pellet guns and other realistic replica guns are not permitted through a TSA security checkpoint.
It was the first gun caught at the airport checkpoint this year. One gun also was stopped at the checkpoint in 2021 and a single gun also was detected in 2020.
“Our officers are good at their jobs and are focused on their mission—especially during the busy holiday travel period,” said Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey. “Not only was he arrested by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department, but this individual also faces a stiff financial civil penalty—a penalty for carrying a weapon that was recently increased to a maximum of $15,000.”
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.
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. 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.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints in 2021. Of the guns caught by TSA last year, about 86 percent were loaded. TSA has already surpassed the 2021 figure and expects to detect approximately 6,600 firearms at security checkpoints by the end of 2022, which will be a new record.
This loaded handgun was stopped at the Trenton-Mercer Airport security checkpoint on Sunday, Dec. 18. (TSA photo)
A TSA officer detected this pellet gun in a traveler’s carry-on bag at Trenton-Mercer Airport on Dec. 18. (TSA photo)