TSA Stops Two Newark Passengers With Loaded Guns at Checkpoint
Last year, TSA caught 6,542 firearms at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Newark Liberty International Airport are on high alert after their officers seized two loaded guns within 24 hours of each other. In a May 4 press release, TSA revealed that both incidents occurred at a security checkpoint in Terminal B and involved 9mm handguns. Upon detection, Port Authority Police rushed to the scene and safely removed the loaded firearms from the checkpoint X-ray machine.
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Both travelers came to the New Jersey airport from New York, one from Brooklyn and the other from Garnerville, about an hour north of Newark. And in both cases, these travelers had the same kind of handgun.
TSA reports that these incidents were unrelated. In other unsettling news, Thomas Carter, TSA's Federal Security Director for New Jersey, said that Newark airport is on its way to surpassing the number of firearms that were detected in 2022.
After the May 3 and May 4 incidents, Newark's detected gun total for this year now sits at seven. Last year, TSA checkpoint officers at Newark discovered 14 guns.
Besides holding up the security line and endangering your vacation plans, there is a federal financial civil penalty—up to $15,000—for bringing a gun to a security checkpoint.
However, there is still a way to transport firearms. While you cannot pack cordless curling irons, vaping devices, 151 proof rum, or thermometers in your checked luggage, surprisingly, travelers can pack up their firearms. The TSA website instructs gun-toting travelers: "You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted. Be aware that the container the firearm was in when purchased may not adequately secure the firearm when it is transported in checked baggage."
Despite this allowance, thousands of travelers try to bring their guns on the planes every year. "Bringing a loaded gun to our checkpoints presents a security and safety concern," Carter said in the press release. "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."
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He continued, "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."
In 2022, out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide, TSA caught 6,542 firearms and, of those, 88 percent were loaded guns. The number of firearms confiscated at checkpoints seems to have steadily increased over time. TSA declared 2018 a record-breaking year, with a total of 4,239 guns discovered at checkpoints, while in 2021, after a dip in travel during the beginning of the pandemic, TSA found another 5,972 firearms at the security checkpoints. At this rate, TSA may very well have another record-breaking year.