HARRISBURG, Pa. — Transportation Security Administration agents at Harrisburg International Airport stopped a Berks County man from boarding his flight with a loaded handgun on Monday, the TSA said in a press release.
The man, a resident of Reading, was found to be in possession of a loaded 9mm handgun as he passed through a security checkpoint, the TSA said.
When the TSA officer spotted the gun and ammunition in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the police were alerted. TSA also forwarded the incident to be followed up with the issuance of a federal financial civil penalty.
“This individual told our TSA officers that he forgot that he had his gun with him,” Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s federal security director for the airport, said in a press release. “If you own a firearm, it is your responsibility to know where it is at all times. Not knowing that you are carrying a handgun is an accident waiting to happen. He now faces a stiff financial civil penalty and his claim to have forgotten that he had a gun is going to cost him.”
The TSA said it reserves the right to issue a civil penalty of up to $13,900 to individuals who bring weapons with them to a checkpoint.
Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating or aggravating circumstances, the TSA said.
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, according to the TSA.
Travelers are allowed to transport their firearms as checked baggage if they are properly packed and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane, the TSA said.
Checked firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. The TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and travelers should check into firearm laws before they decide to travel with their guns. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
"When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident," the TSA said in a statement. "Guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates."
Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year.
Of the guns caught by TSA in 2022, about 86% were loaded.
This is at least the third such incident at Harrisburg International Airport reported by the TSA this summer, and the fourth of the year, according to FOX43 records.