HUNTINGTON, W.Va. –  A Florida man was cited by police after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Huntington Tri-State Airport (HTS) caught a loaded handgun in the man’s carry-on bag Friday, August 5. The .22 caliber handgun was loaded with 10 bullets.  

This is the second time this month that TSA has stopped travelers with guns.

TSA catches loaded firearm during security screening at West Virginia airport

When the TSA officer spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, local police were alerted, came to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and cited the man on a weapons charge. When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. Guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.

“Guns and airplanes don’t mix,” said Simone Beyer, TSA’s Acting Federal Security Director for West Virginia. “Guns at security checkpoints are a serious concern. There’s a right way to transport a gun for a flight and a wrong way. The wrong way is to bring it to a checkpoint. The right way is to make sure it’s unloaded, packed in a hard-sided locked case and brought to the airline check-in counter to be declared. The airline will make sure it is transported in the belly of the plane where nobody has access to it during a flight.”

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. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

TSA Firearms Caught at the Huntington Tri-State Airport checkpoint, 2017 to 2022

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019 due to the pandemic. The result was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019.  Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.

TSA also caught a man with a loaded firearm at the Pittsburgh Airport this month.

TSA stops Washington County man with handgun at Pittsburgh Airport checkpoint

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.