CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped an Ebensburg woman who had a loaded gun in her purse at a security checkpoint at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, Friday, Sept. 3.
The woman was given a gate pass by an airline to allow her to meet an inbound passenger. When the .38 caliber gun was detected, TSA officers alerted the Westmoreland County Park Police, according to Pa. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials.
She now faces a stiff federal financial penalty for carrying a gun through a security checkpoint, according to the DHS.
It was the fifth handgun that TSA officers have caught at the airport so far this year. Only three guns were caught in 2019 when significantly more people were flying prior to the pandemic.
When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. Guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates. TSA reserves the right to issue a $3,000 to $13,910 civil penalty to travelers who have loaded guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint.
Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019 due to the pandemic.
The result was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.
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