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December 27, 2023

Bringing a gun to airport security would cost its owner the right to carry under proposed bill in Harrisburg

A record-breaking number of people were caught with firearms at Philadelphia International in 2023, and the trend is not unique to the city

Transportation Airports
PA Airport Gun Law Alex Gould/USA TODAY NETWORK

Pennsylvania residents who bring their guns to airport security could soon face stiffer penalties for doing so.

A Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to address a peculiar pattern: the growing number of people who are bringing their guns to the airport.

Next year, state Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) plans to introduce a bill that would impose harsher penalties on anyone who brings a firearm to airport security lines. Under the proposed legislation, Pennsylvania residents caught with a gun at airport security would have their carry permits revoked, according to a release from Frankel’s office. Frankel noted that unloaded guns in locked, hard-shell containers can legally be transported in a checked bag.

The proposed legislation was drafted in response to the growing rate at which Transportation Security Administration agents are catching people attempting to bring their guns through airport security. On Dec. 12, after a Delaware man was prevented from boarding a flight with his gun, the TSA announced PHL security personnel broke the airport’s record for the most guns confiscated in a single year (45). Nationwide, TSA officers found more than 6,500 firearms last year, also a record.

"Each year, thousands of air travelers, airport workers and TSA officers face unnecessary danger because of gun owners who attempt to bring firearms through carry-on luggage checkpoints," Rep. Frankel said in a statement. "The statistics are alarming — last year, TSA seized about 6,500 guns, and nearly 90% of them were loaded. The owners’ response in 100% of the cases was 'I forgot.'"

Whatever one’s explanation may be, bringing a firearm to an airport security checkpoint is a crime that already carries some stiff penalties. In addition to criminal charges, gun owners who attempt to bring their weapons through TSA security can face federal civil penalties of up to $15,000 and lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

If Frankel’s bill makes its way to Gov. Shapiro’s desk next year, Pennsylvanians who bring a gun to airport security could also lose their right to legally carry those weapons altogether.

Except for 2020, when air travel was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of firearms confiscated at U.S. airports has increased every year since 2010.