Philadelphia Woman Arrested After TSA Discovers Loaded Gun in Her Purse at Trenton-Mercer Airport
Ewing Township, NJ – On Tuesday, November 7, 2023, a Philadelphia woman was taken into custody by the police at Trenton-Mercer Airport following the detection of a loaded handgun in her purse by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers. The woman, who was not a ticketed traveler, had been granted a “gate pass” by the airline to accompany her visually impaired sister to her gate.
The handgun, a .38 caliber weapon, was found to be loaded with five bullets. TSA officers noticed the firearm as the woman entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray scan of her purse raised an alert, prompting a more thorough inspection. A Mercer County Sheriff’s Deputy confiscated the weapon, and the woman was subsequently arrested on a weapons charge. In addition to facing legal consequences, she will also incur a substantial financial civil penalty for attempting to bring a gun to a TSA security checkpoint.
A photograph released by TSA revealed the gun that was apprehended at the Trenton-Mercer Airport checkpoint on November 7. The significance of the incident is further underscored by the fact that the gun was loaded with five bullets.
Thomas Carter, the Federal Security Director for New Jersey, emphasized the importance of adhering to the security protocols established by TSA. While it is a privilege to receive a gate pass to escort a fellow traveler, individuals holding such passes must undergo the same rigorous screening procedures as ticketed passengers, which strictly prohibit the presence of weapons. The woman claimed that she did not think to remove her gun from her purse before coming to the airport, as she always carries it with her. However, Carter stressed that there are no justifiable excuses for attempting to bring a gun to TSA checkpoints.
Bringing a firearm to an airport checkpoint is a federal offense that incurs a civil penalty from TSA. The amount of the penalty can reach several thousand dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This penalty applies to individuals with or without concealed carry permits, as such permits do not authorize the carrying of firearms through checkpoints. The complete list of civil penalties is available online. Moreover, if an individual possessing a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, their PreCheck privileges will be revoked.
To assist travelers in determining whether an item should be packed in a carry-on or checked bag, the free myTSA app offers a useful “What can I bring?” feature. By typing in the item, users can quickly ascertain its flight eligibility. Travelers can also seek clarification via Twitter or Facebook Messenger by contacting @AskTSA or by texting “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).
In conclusion, the arrest of a Philadelphia woman at Trenton-Mercer Airport for attempting to bring a loaded gun through a TSA security checkpoint serves as a reminder of the stringent safety measures in place to protect air travel. TSA’s commitment to maintaining a secure environment extends to all individuals, regardless of their reasons for being at the airport.