Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Newark Liberty International Airport stopped two travelers with loaded guns in two days after detecting the weapons at a security checkpoint in Terminal B.
A traveler from Brooklyn, N.Y. was found to have a loaded 9mm handgun in a backpack on Wednesday, May 3, and a Garnerville, N.Y., traveler was found to have a 9mm handgun today, May 4. The incidents were not related.
In each instance when a TSA officer spotted the guns in the checkpoint X-ray machine, Port Authority Police were alerted, came to the checkpoint and removed the firearms from the X-ray machine.
When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. All remaining travelers are shifted to another lane, thus delaying them from passing through the checkpoint because guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.
Each individual faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty for bringing a gun to a security checkpoint. The penalty for bringing a weapon to a TSA checkpoint can cost as much as $15,000, depending on the circumstances.
The proper way to transport a firearm for a flight is to ensure it is unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided case and taken to the airline counter to be declared and transported in the belly of the aircraft so that nobody has access to it during a flight. Details on transporting firearms and ammunition are posted on TSA’s web site.
“Bringing a loaded gun to our checkpoints presents a security and safety concern,” said Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey. “These two back-to-back gun catches bring our count to seven guns detected at our checkpoints this calendar year. That puts us on pace to surpass the 14 guns that we prevented from being carried onto planes in 2022, which would set a new record for the number of firearms detected in a single calendar year. Our TSA officers are good at what they do, but this is not the type of record we want to set. We would much rather see fewer travelers bringing firearms to our security checkpoints.”
Last year, 6,542 firearms were caught at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide. Eighty-eight percent of those guns were loaded.