A TSA officer at Punta Gorda Airport intercepted a loaded .380 semiautomatic pistol while screening a carry-on bag Monday at about at 10:42 a.m. The officer froze operations and notified his supervisor, who in turn summoned the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office to respond. The owner of the bag was identified as a 47-year-old male from Port Charlotte traveling to Greenville, N.C. After arriving on the scene, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office observed while the TSA supervisor conducted a search of the bag. The pistol was loaded with six rounds. The CCSO advised the passenger that he was being charged with carrying a weapon into the secure area of the airport, and the CCSO has possession of the firearm at this time.
TSA spokeswoman Sari Koshetz offered this advice to passengers, “Unpack before packing to be sure you do not have prohibited items such as guns in your carry-on bag.” Weapons, including guns, are not permitted in carry-on baggage. Passengers are responsible for the contents of the bags they bring to the security checkpoint, and TSA’s advice to passengers is to look through bags thoroughly before coming to the airport to make sure there are no illegal or prohibited items. Passengers who bring firearms to a checkpoint face in addition to criminal charges a civil penalty from TSA of up to $11,000. Domestic passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided case, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure. Information about the proper transport of firearms is available on our web site: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.
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