My gun went through the TSA: what happens next?


COLUMBUS (WCMH) – There are signs all over the airport: No guns beyond this point. But airport security is catching more guns than ever from scanners.

Lt. Todd Heck, police officer at John Glenn International Airport, explains what happens after the stomach-knocking moment when you realize your gun is in your carry-on.

“When this image is seen of a gun on the x-ray machine, operations on that control lane stop,” Heck said. “This is probably the first clue for this passenger that something is wrong. … As a rule, once we arrive and they see us in and around the x-ray machine conversing with TSA agents, holding this bag to identify this owner, the majority of them are caught off guard.

Now is not the time to pretend this bag isn’t yours.

“We have the means and the capacity to identify who owns this bag. … We can determine who is the owner. They will not be able to leave at that time. This person will not be able to complete the selection process with the TSA and again they will be remanded with us and will not be free to leave, ”Heck said.

What happens to the friend or spouse of the person who brought the gun to airport security?

“If we determine that they have no association with this bag other than traveling with this person, they will be free to leave and continue their flight,” Heck said. “They will have the option if they wish to return to the public area and wait until that person is potentially released, then make arrangements later to travel together.”

But the trip is not going to be very fun.

“If we establish the probable cause why this person brought this gun to a screening checkpoint, they are at least currently at risk of a second degree offense, carrying a sentence of up to 90 days in prison. and up to a $ 750 fine. seize their firearm as evidence that can be confiscated by the judge.

Typically, the police will issue a summons for a later court date, which allows the person to continue their journey. But everything changes if they have an active mandate.

“Depending on the status of the warrant… this person could be taken to Franklin County Jail, incarcerated and not released until before a judge,” Heck said.

And, if you’ve had that “oops” moment and tried to pass a handgun in the past, passing a gun again might make it a felony, not a misdemeanor. Having a concealment permit is also no protection – firearms are not allowed through airport security.

The TSA imposes civil penalties on travelers who bring weapons to a checkpoint, the TSA said in a press release. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun at a checkpoint is $ 4,100. The full list of civil penalties is on the TSA website.

Lt. Heck recommends that you carefully empty any purse, gym bag, backpack, or luggage that you plan to use when traveling. Empty the contents and start packing it with your travel items. It helps to eliminate frustrating and costly mistakes.

The 13th firearm detected at the CMH this year; 29 firearms were detected at CMH security checkpoints in 2019 and 24 in 2020.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if unloaded, packaged separately from ammunition in a locked hard case, and declared at the airline check-in counter. Laws on the possession of firearms vary by state and locality. Travelers should check gun laws where they travel and return, the TSA said.

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