17th Gun Seizure of Year at BWI Airport

Transportation Security Administration officers at BWI Airport detected this loaded handgun in a traveler’s carry-on bag June 22. TSA photo

By Deb Belt

A Florida man has been charged with bringing a 25-caliber handgun to Baltimore-Washington International Airport on June 22.

Federal authorities say it’s the 17th gun seizure this year at BWI, which is ahead of the 2017 record pace for the number of firearms confiscated from travelers in a year. The weekend seizure is also the third time this month that officers have taken a gun from a flier.

The man from Edgewater, Fla., was stopped with the unloaded handgun in his carry-on bag, according to Transportation Security Administration officials. The traveler told TSA officials that he forgot that he had his gun with him.

When the TSA officers spotted the gun in the security checkpoint X-ray machine they contacted the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, who confiscated the weapon and cited the man on weapons charges, according to a TSA news release.

On June 8, a Davidsonville man was charged with bringing a loaded 9-mm semiautomatic handgun to the airport and on June 5 a Glen Burnie man was arrested for allegedly having a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in his carry-on bag.

Last month, TSA officers seized guns at the security checkpoint on three straight days. A Hopewell, Va., man was stopped May 24 with an unloaded 9-mm handgun in his carry-on bag. The day before a Pasadena man was stopped by TSA officers at a checkpoint after screeners spotted a 9-mm handgun loaded with seven bullets including one in the chamber, along with a spare magazine clip loaded with seven additional bullets.

Authorities say 22 guns were caught at BWI Airport during all of 2018, and this year’s seizure count is ahead of the record 26 guns seized at the airport in 2017.

Nationwide last year, 4,239 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 11.6 firearms per day, about a 7 percent increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 3,957 detected in 2017. Eighty-six percent of firearms detected at checkpoints in 2018 were loaded and nearly 34 percent had a bullet in the chamber, the TSA says.

Firearms are never allowed at security checkpoints. Passengers who try to carry firearms through security checkpoints face criminal charges and the TSA has the authority to assess fines of up to $13,000. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900.

What is the proper procedure for transporting firearms on flights?

Firearms are never permitted in carry-on bags. Weapons can by in checked bags if the following requirements are met:

  • They are declared to the airline in advance.
  • They are unloaded and properly packed.
  • The carrier possesses the necessary permits.

Firearms carried as checked baggage must be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided container, and declared to the airline at check-in. Read the guidelines.

Firearm parts, including magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, are prohibited in carry-on, but may be transported in checked baggage.

Passengers should check with their airline if ammunition is permitted in checked baggage. Small arms ammunitions for personal use must be packed in fiber, wood or metal boxes designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.

More information on how to travel with a firearm is on the TSA’s website.

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