SYRACUSE, N.Y. –  An Elkins, W.Va., man was arrested by police after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught him with a loaded handgun at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport security checkpoint this morning.

He was stopped with a .380 caliber handgun loaded with seven bullets, including one in the chamber.

Man with loaded handgun stopped by TSA at Pittsburgh International Airport

A TSA officer spotted the handgun on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor as the man’s belongings were being screened. The handgun was found in his carry-on bag. TSA immediately alerted the Syracuse Police, which responded to the checkpoint and confiscated the weapon.

The man told officials that he had driven to the area to work and when he went to catch a flight, he forgot that he had his gun with him. 

TSA officers at Syracuse Hancock International Airport stopped a man with this handgun at the security checkpoint on April 19. (TSA photo)

“This was a very good catch on the part of our officers at a time when we are seeing an increase in travel volume,” said Bart R. Johnson, TSA Federal Security Director for Upstate New York. “It was a careless and now costly mistake on the part of the traveler as he faces a Federal financial penalty.”

TSA Firearms Caught at the Syracuse Hancock International Airport checkpoint, 2017 to 2022

Year201720182019202020212022(As of 4-19-22)
Guns caught325442

TSA says you can take firearms on a plane, but you must follow these rules:

  • Guns can be transported on a flight if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and declared to the airline.
  • At the airport during the check-in process, a passenger needs to go to the airline ticket counter to declare the firearm, ammunition and any firearm parts.
  • The airline will be sure that the gun travels with checked baggage in the belly of the plane, never in the cabin of the plane. 
  • Replica firearms also are prohibited in carry-on baggage and also must be transported in checked luggage.
  • Travelers should check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements for transporting firearms.

Bringing a handgun to a checkpoint can cost you thousands

Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. Among the factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount include whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition. Civil penalties apply 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.

Individuals who violate rules regarding traveling with guns will have Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheck® expedited screening benefits revoked.  

TSA has additional traveler information specifically related to the transportation of firearms and ammunition posted on its website. A full summary of TSA’s civil penalties for prohibited items is also available online.

TSA reminds passengers to always know the contents of their carry-on bag prior to coming to the security checkpoint. TSA has multiple resources available to passengers to help them determine whether an item is permitted in carry-on baggage, checked baggage, either or neither.

Travelers can use the “Can I Bring?” feature on the TSA website or on the free downloadable myTSA app. Travelers can also Tweet or Message “@AskTSA” if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag. Just snap a picture or send a question and get real-time assistance weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year; approximately 86 percent were loaded.