TSA officers at BWI detected this handgun in a traveler’s carry-on bag on July 9. (TSA photo)

LINTHICUM, Md. – A Prince George’s County, Md., man was arrested after Transportation Security Administration officers at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) caught him with a 9 mm handgun loaded with 11 bullets, including one in the chamber, July 9.

A TSA officer spotted the gun in the man’s carry-on bag while it was inside the checkpoint X-ray machine. The Maryland Transportation Authority Police were notified, arrived at the checkpoint, confiscated the firearm and detained the man. for questioning before arresting him on weapons charges. He is a resident of Fort Washington, Md.

“Our TSA officers have remained focused on their mission during this pandemic, and they are very skilled at detecting prohibited items,” said Andrea R. Mishoe, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Maryland. “Nobody should ever bring a firearm to a checkpoint. The safe way to travel with a gun is to make sure it is unloaded and packed in a hard-sided case. Then lock the case and take it to the airline ticket counter to declare it.  The case will be screened as checked baggage and placed in the cargo hold of the aircraft for transport.”

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.

A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100. 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. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/civil-enforcement.

Nationwide last year, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018. Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.