Country singer and “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery was stopped at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport when TSA agents discovered a loaded handgun in the singer’s carry-on bag.
USA Today reported that “McCreery had tried to carry the gun through a passenger checkpoint before boarding a flight July 13. While McCreery has a permit to carry, his attempt to bring the 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun through the checkpoint resulted in a misdemeanor violation. The singer told police that he’d forgotten to remove the handgun from his bag after visiting a firing range.”
McCreery is not alone—and the number of gun owners who find themselves in similar legal straits is rather staggering, according to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch regarding U.S. airports: “In 2015, 2,653 firearms were discovered at [TSA] checkpoints nationwide. Last year, the number reached 3,391, an almost 28 percent increase…. From July 3-9, for example, the TSA found 78 firearms in carry-on baggage; 62 of those guns were loaded, and 32 had a round chambered.”
“So far this year, we’re over 1,800,” said TSA Regional Spokesman Mark Howell. “TSA doesn’t want to infringe on anybody’s right to take a gun with them when they travel. We just want to make sure that it’s done in the safest way possible, and that it’s inaccessible during the flight.”
While McCreery was charged with a misdemeanor, the Post-Dispatch noted that a person found with a firearm at a TSA checkpoint could face a civil penalty of up to $12,000.
Best advice for gun owners traveling by plane, especially those with carry permits who regularly go out armed: Check your bags and pockets before you enter an airport for firearms, knives, and ammunition. They can all land you in hot water if TSA finds them in your carry-on bags.
Remember, too, that your carry permit does not apply past TSA checkpoints or on planes operated by the airlines. For more information about the do’s and don’ts concerning firearms and air travel, contact your airline and visit TSA.gov.
— Brian McCombie, U.S. LawShield Contributor