NEWARK, N.J. — Transportation Security Administration officers detect an average of more than seven firearms at checkpoints per day across the nation in 2015, many of those instances resulting in arrests, citations and the confiscation of the guns. But it doesn’t have to be like that if passengers properly pack and declare their firearms.
In total, 2,653 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country in 2015, approximately a 20-percent increase in firearm discoveries from the total of 2,212 in 2014. However in the New Jersey/New York metropolitan region, the number of firearms detected by TSA officers doubled from calendar year 2014 to 2015.
“The transport of firearms in carry-on bags represents a threat to the safety and security of air travelers,” said TSA’s New Jersey Federal Security Director Tom Carter. “In 2016, what we would like to see are more passengers who own firearms to pack and travel with their weapons the proper way. Weapons — including firearms, firearm parts and ammunition — are never permitted in carry-on bags, but they can be transported in checked bags if they are properly packed and declared to the airline.”
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. TSA advises travelers to do a little homework before they plan to fly with their firearm. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure to ensure that they have the proper gun permits for the states that they are traveling to and from. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition so travelers should also contact the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.
The proper way to travel with a firearm is to make sure it is unloaded and packed inside a hard sided firearm case. Any ammunition should be kept in its original box and placed inside the firearm case next to the unloaded gun. A lock needs to be placed on the case. The traveler then should take the firearm case to the airline check-in counter and declare that he/she wants to travel with the gun. The airline will have the traveler fill out a form. The airline will make sure that the gun travels in the belly of the plane — never in the cabin of the plane where someone would have access to it during the flight.
Locally, the New York City/New Jersey region saw a sharp increase in the number of firearms detected by TSA officers at checkpoints in 2015 — double what was caught in 2014. In 2015 TSA officers detected 24 firearms at the three major New York area airports compared to 12 in 2014.