As the Transportation Security Administration reported last week, an airport security agent at Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine, stopped a man as he attempted to pass through the checkpoint carrying a homemade gun and hatchet packed inside his carry-on luggage.
In a tweet posted to the official account of TSA New England, spokesperson Dan Velez recalled the incident. He said that local law enforcement officers were ultimately called to the scene to deal with the issue.
“Yesterday @portlandjetport, @TSA officers detected this homemade firearm in a man’s carry-on bag,” Velez wrote. “They also found a hatchet in the bag.”
Yesterday @portlandjetport, @TSA officers detected this homemade firearm in a man's carry-on bag. They also found a hatchet in the bag. Portland Police responded and confiscated the firearm. This was the 3rd firearm detection at PWM this year. #Travelfail pic.twitter.com/QMpKaMYXIQ
— TSA_NewEngland (@TSA_NewEngland) December 15, 2022
Velez said that the passenger was a 50-year-old man who was heading to Philadelphia. His hatchet was allowed to be kept, but he had to put it in his checked luggage so that it would be protected.
In the wake of the agents’ discovery, the Portland Police Department was notified, and officers dispatched to the airport seized what they described as a homemade weapon. Portland International Jetport has had three weapons detected so far this year.
As it happens, this discovery came just days before the TSA announced that, based on its records, the agency had found an unprecedented number of firearms at airport security checkpoints across the nation.
This year, TSA has stopped 6,301 firearms from getting past security checkpoints, and more than 88% were loaded. Last year, 5,972 firearms were detected at security checkpoints.
In addition, the TSA is raising the civil penalty for firearms violations to $14,950, which would be determined “based on the circumstances in each case.”
It is legal for people to travel with firearms in the U.S., so long as they comply with the TSA guidelines for proper transportation of guns and ammunition when they are flying with them. Armed passengers must unload their weapons before placing them in hard-sided containers and placing them in checked baggage. To board a flight, travelers must declare their weapons at the airport ticket counter when they arrive at the airport.