Man stopped with handgun at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport

Jan. 10—AVOCA — Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport on Monday prevented a man from New Milford from bringing his handgun onto his flight.

TSA said the .380 caliber gun, which was not loaded, was tucked into the man’s laptop bag and was detected when the bag entered the checkpoint X-ray machine.

When the gun was spotted, TSA officers notified the police. The man told officials that he did not realize that he had his gun with him because he thought he had lost the gun several months ago. He said that he forgot that he had placed it into his laptop bag.

“If you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “That’s a vital part about being a responsible gun owner. Even if someone has a permit to carry, they still are not permitted to bring a gun onto a flight. This man now faces a stiff financial civil penalty — a penalty that was recently increased to up to $15,000 for a weapons violation at an airport. I commend our officers for continuing their vigilance in helping to ensure that weapons are not carried through a security checkpoint.”

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty of up to $15,000 to individuals who bring weapons with them to a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating or aggravating 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. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Travelers are allowed to transport their firearms as checked baggage if they are properly packed and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane with checked baggage. Checked firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and travelers should check into firearm laws before they decide to travel with their guns. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

TSA said when an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. TSA said guns at checkpoints delay travelers from getting to their gates.

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.

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