TSA agents at Newark Airport said they nabbed a Ridgefield Park man trying to sneak a gun belt buckle through security.
The weapon, seized at a Terminal C X-ray security check, was “packed inside of two soft-sided zippered cases within a backpack and initially appeared to be a large belt buckle with a replica gun on it,” the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said.
It could quickly be popped out of its “decorative metal oval frame” and used, the agency said in a release.
The owner told Port Authority police who arrested him that he “forgot he had his gun with him,” it said.
“Claiming to forget that you have a gun with you is inexcusable,” said Thomas Carter, the TSA’s federal security director for New Jersey. “If you own a gun you need to know where it is at all times.”
The unidentified owner “now faces a stiff federal financial penalty that could cost [him] thousands of dollars,” Carter added.
Charges – and the penalties that come with them – apply to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits, which don’t allow carrying on an airplane.
They aren’t the only ones who pay.
“When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident,” the TSA says. “Guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.”
Even during the COVID pandemic, when the number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints nationwide fell by 500 million, a total of 3,257 guns were seized, according to the TSA.
Of those, a little over four of every five were loaded, the agency said.
Eleven of them were confiscated at Newark, the TSA said, adding that five have turned up so far this year.
Passengers can travel with firearms in checked baggage “if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane,” the agency says.
“Checked firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition,” it adds.
Also: “Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and travelers should check into firearm laws before they decide to travel with their guns. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.”
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