By Forum Staff
A traveler was arrested by police last Wednesday after Transportation Security Administration officers at LaGuardia Airport spotted a handgun and loaded magazine concealed inside a pair of sneakers packed inside a checked bag.
When the checked bag passed through the TSA explosives detection unit, it triggered an alarm, alerting officers to open the bag and scrutinize its contents. Inside the luggage was a pair of white Nike high-top sneakers with green trim; officers then discovered a .45-caliber semi-automatic gun in one shoe and a gun magazine loaded with six bullets in the other.
TSA officials notified the Port Authority Police who tracked down the traveler at his gate and arrested him on weapons charges.
In addition to the arrest, this individual also faces a financial civil penalty. Civil penalties for carrying weapons can reach a maximum of $15,000.
“Attempting to conceal firearms inside shoes in a checked bag doesn’t cut it,” said Robert Duffy, TSA’s federal security director for the airport. “If you want to travel with your gun, travelers only need to pack it properly.”
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded and packed in a hard-sided locked case. Then the locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition.
Civil penalties for bringing a gun into an airport can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online at tsa.gov/travel/civil-enforcement. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck(r), that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and individuals who want to travel with their gun should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.