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TSA stops Maine woman from taking loaded gun onto plane at airport

Transportation Security Administration workers screening carry-on luggage. (Barry Bahler/Department of Homeland Security)

Security screening officers at the Portland International Jetport confiscated a loaded 9 mm handgun from a Minot woman Wednesday, a Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman said Thursday.

The gun was loaded with six bullets.

Officers stopped the woman, whose name has not been made public, from bringing the gun past the checkpoint and onto an airplane.

Officers spotted the gun when the woman’s purse entered the checkpoint X-ray machine, according to TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

The officers contacted airport police, who came to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and detained the woman for questioning.

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The woman told police she forgot she brought her loaded gun, which was tucked into an outer pocket of her purse.

This marked the first time a gun was detected by TSA officers in Portland so far this year, according to Farbstein’s news release.

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

Nationally, last year, 4,239 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 11.6 firearms per day, about a 7% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 3,957 detected in 2017, according to Farbstein. Eighty-six percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded and nearly 34% had a bullet in the chamber.

As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed firearm permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes in their carry-on bags.

In addition, TSA has the authority to assess civil penalties of up to $13,333 for weapons violations. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100.

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website: ww.tsa.gov/travelerinformation/firearms-and-ammunition>. Travelers should also contact their airline because as it may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

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© 2019 the Sun Journal