Heading to the airport? Don’t forget that you can’t take firearms or ammunition on-board the plane, though they may be stowed in checked luggage.
A departing passenger at the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport was found at the security checkpoint last Tuesday to be carrying 50 rounds of ammunition.
Discovery of handguns typically result in arrests, but not so ammunition, though the ammo is often seized. Said Transportation Security Administration spokesman Sari Koshetz:
Federal privacy laws prohibit the TSA from identifying individuals involved in security incidents. I can tell you TSA officers intercepted a carryon bag of a passenger yesterday [Tuesday] containing 50 rounds of ammunition. Any individual bringing prohibited items to a federal checkpoint faces civil penalties from the TSA. It is up to our law enforcement partners to decide if any criminal penalties are appropriate.
Little Rock police were not notified of the ammunition discovery, Chief Kenton Buckner said, so there was no incident report available to identify the passenger. The TSA apparently handled the matter internally though Koshetz provided no other details.
The matter came to my attention because of a report that the person with the bullets was a public figure. He has declined to respond to questions about the incident. He was traveling that day, records indicate.
Koshetz said that if a fine is assessed, it will not be a record accessible by the public. Koshetz confirmed that this TSA posting on a website in response to a question is an accurate representation of general procedures in Little Rock:
There’s a wide range of procedures TSA has to follow, depending on the circumstances. The most serious occurs when someone brings a loaded handgun to one of our passenger security checkpoints. Once the passenger steps through the metal detector, or places their carry-on baggage on the x-ray belt at our checkpoint, they have presented themselves for screening and TSA has to complete the screening process. If a firearm is detected either on the passenger or in his carry-on items, TSA will engage local law enforcement officers. Aside from possible criminal charges brought forth by law enforcement, TSA has the ability to impose civil case proceedings with fines ranging up to $10,000. While virtually all of the firearms discovered at our checkpoints are believed to be simple mistakes, it is impossible for us to make that determination.
TSA personnel must be alert to the possibility of someone testing our system or a passenger unknowingly being used by others to introduce a firearm or other device into our secure areas.
Loose rounds of ammunition also can pose an issue at the checkpoint and delay the passenger. An individual with ammunition at the checkpoint may simply receive a warning letter or the incident may result in fines.
Improperly packed firearms and ammunition in luggage may also pose an issue. When such an incident occurs, the passenger is called back to the checked baggage screening point and asked to secure the improperly packed item. We recommend allowing extra time for the firearm to be screened so that the passenger can be made aware of any potential issues should they arise.
Improperly packaged ammunition often ends up being surrendered.
A police records check for the last three years showed about two dozen incidents of people at the airport carrying a weapon. Among the famous forgetful over the years was David Huckabee, son of then- and now-presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who forgot a Glock in his bag in 2007. He paid $605 in fine and costs and did 10 days of community service on the charge of possessing a weapon in a prohibited place.