Three US passengers stopped from bringing loaded guns onto festive flights | CNN

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For most of us, traveling home for the holidays involves bringing clothes, presents and possibly some food to add to the feast awaiting us.

But three US travelers attempted to bring something else cross-country for the season of peace: loaded guns.

The three were caught during the busy holiday travel period by TSA officers in separate incidents across the East Coast.

On December 22, a Florida man was stopped at Harrisburg International Airport in Pennsylvania, after TSA staff detected a .380 caliber handgun in his luggage, loaded with no fewer than seven bullets.

“The traveler claimed that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him,” TSA said in a statement.

Then on Christmas Eve, a woman from Maryland was stopped at DC’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport after TSA staff noticed a 9mm gun loaded with six bullets in her carry-on.

The gun – with pink paneling – was the 39th detected at the airport in 2023. That’s the highest number ever caught at Reagan – the previous record was 30 in a year, in 2021.

The gun was detected by the X-ray machine at the security checkpoint, the TSA said in a statement, adding: “Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police confiscated the gun and cited the individual on a weapons charge.”

The woman now faces a penalty of up to $15,000.

Then on Christmas itself, a male passenger was caught with a .380 caliber handgun, loaded with six bullets, in his carry-on at Pittsburgh International Airport. His was the 44th gun confiscated at the airport in 2023.

“It’s absolutely unforgivable to bring a firearm to a security checkpoint,” Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s federal security director for the airport, said in a statement.

“Responsible gun owners do not bring their guns to a checkpoint because they know the proper way to pack a firearm for a flight. This individual carelessly introduced an unnecessary risk into the airport environment and as a result he will face a stiff Federal financial penalty that will likely cost him thousands of dollars.”

The three incidents are part of a wider trend of an increasing number of people trying to take guns onto airplanes, TSA said in a statement.

In the third quarter of 2023, TSA officers detected 1,820 firearms at airport checkpoints – an average of nearly 20 per day, with the overwhelming majority (94%) loaded.

The number of illicit guns found in 2023 looks set to surpass last year’s record of 6,542 across the country. This year, over 5,000 guns have been intercepted in the first nine months of the year alone.

“Bringing a gun to an airport security checkpoint was no way to enter the holiday,” said John Busch, TSA’s federal security director at Reagan Airport, in a statement about the woman’s transgression.

“There’s naughty and there’s nice at this time of year and the nice way to transport your firearm is to make sure it is unloaded, locked in a hard-sided case and declared at your airline check-in counter.

“The naughty way is to bring it to a checkpoint. [These travelers] will likely receive a federal civil penalty of thousands of dollars. Responsible gun owners know where their guns are at all times and they know not to bring them to an airport checkpoint.”

Travelers have tried to bring all kind of illicit items onto planes this year, including a boa constrictor in Florida, and a live cat at Norfolk Airport. After a slew of animals being discovered by TSA, pet owners had to be reminded not to put their furry (and scaly) friends through the X-ray machine in September.

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