Sept. 30–A man whose loaded handgun was found early Sunday in his carry-on bag at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport could be fined as much as $7,000.
The 62-year-old man had a .38-caliber Ruger handgun in his luggage when it was screened at the security checkpoint, according to the Transportation Safety Administration.
The gun was loaded with six rounds, a TSA spokesman said. It was the first weapon found in a carry-on bag this year at the airport, where two were recorded in 2014 and one in 2013.
“TSA immediately notified local law enforcement, who responded to the checkpoint and escorted the passenger out of the airport,” a news release said.
Federal law prohibits guns in carry-on luggage, but they can be transported in checked bags if they are unloaded, properly packed and declared to the airline.
TSA spokesman Mike McCarthy said the passenger could receive a civil penalty of between $1,500 and $7,000.
“In my experience, we almost always follow through on those penalties for firearms,” McCarthy said.
Westmoreland County Park Police investigated the incident. Chief Kirk Nolan was not available for comment about whether charges will be filed.
Gabe Monzo, executive director of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority, said the incident was handled with “standard operating procedures.”
Monzo didn’t know the details of the incident, but he said usually a passenger leaves a weapon in a carry-on bag accidentally.
“It’s happened, but there’s standard operating procedures to deal with that. A lot of times it’s accidental, but you deal with it accordingly,” he said.
At Pittsburgh International Airport, 12 guns have been detected at security checkpoints this year, including two earlier this month.
On Sept. 1, a Tarentum man said he forgot a .38-caliber pistol in his carry-on bag. On Sept. 12, a West Virginia man had a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun in his carry-on.
Fourteen guns were found in 2014 and 20 in 2013, TSA records show.
Between Sept. 11 and 17, TSA reported a record 67 firearms were discovered at airports nationally, surpassing the previous record 65 guns found from May 17-23 in 2013.
Of those 67 guns, 56 were loaded and 26 of those had bullets in the chamber, according to the TSA.
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.