Police said they arrested a man Thursday after TSA agents stopped him with a loaded gun in his carry-on bag at Newark Liberty International Airport.
TSA officers detected the 9mm pistol loaded with 13 bullets, including one in the chamber, in the traveler’s Thanksgiving bag. The Pennsylvania man is the third person arrested this month at the airport after TSA found weapons in his suitcase, authorities said.
The firearm is the 14th detected by airport security this year, according to the TSA. This year so far is tied with 2018 for the most firearms discovered in Newark. Last year, TSA officers found 5,972 weapons at airport checkpoints across the country. 86% of them were loaded, the agency said.
Thomas Carter, TSA’s federal security director for New Jersey, said the man faces a «severe federal financial civil penalty that could run into the thousands of dollars» in addition to his arrest.
«Getting caught and arrested for carrying a loaded gun at our airport means this guy had a pretty bad Thanksgiving,» Carter said. «Our TSA officers are on the job this busy holiday weekend so others can reach their destinations safely and spend the holidays with family and friends. Our team remains vigilant and focused on the mission of helping ensure that no prohibited items are taken on a flight.»
When traveling with a firearm, the TSA encourages passengers to comply with airline limitations, as well as declare each firearm when checking baggage. According to the agency website, firearms must be «unloaded and locked in a rigid container and transported as checked baggage only.» Toy guns and replicas can only be transported in checked baggage, not carry-on baggage. A concealed carry permit does not allow passengers to fly with a firearm.
Weapons are considered loaded when the passenger can access both the firearm and its ammunition, even if they are stored in separate but accessible bags. If a passenger is caught with an unloaded weapon and ammunition accessible at an airport checkpoint, he can be charged with the same civil penalty as carrying a loaded firearm. TSA PreCheck members caught traveling with loaded firearms also risk losing their PreCheck privileges, the TSA said.
The TSA also instructs passengers to «do their homework» and be aware of local firearms laws, which vary by state and locality.