HUNTINGTON - A Florida man was caught by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers with a loaded .40 caliber handgun in his carry-on bag at Huntington Tri-State Airport (HTS) on Wednesday.
It marked the fifth gun caught at the airport's checkpoint so far this year, more than twice as many as were caught in 2018 in just the first half of 2019, according to a news release from the TSA.
TSA officers caught two firearms at the HTS checkpoint in 2018.
TSA officers spotted the gun, which was loaded with six bullets, when the man's belongings entered the X-ray machine, according to the release. They contacted airport police, who arrived at the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and detained the man, a resident of Seffner, Florida, for questioning. The man told officials that he forgot he had his loaded gun in his backpack.
In Charleston on Wednesday, the TSA says officers stopped a Cabell County woman with a gun in her carry-on bag at Yeager Airport.
The TSA said the woman told officers she forgot she had the loaded .357 caliber handgun on her when she reached an airport checkpoint.
Officials did not release the woman's name. She was questioned then allowed to get on her plane without her gun.
The agency said it was the fourth gun found at that airport's checkpoint this year.
Last year, officials found 4,239 firearms at airport checkpoints across the country. The TSA says passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked and packed separately from ammunition.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. TSA has the authority to assess civil penalties of up to $13,333 for weapons violations. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $4,000, according to the TSA.