A Poland man was detained Tuesday afternoon after he allegedly brought a loaded handgun into the Portland International Jetport.
The man, who was not identified, had a 9 mm handgun loaded with 12 bullets, including one in the chamber, tucked into the outer pocket of a black messenger bag when he attempted to pass through a checkpoint, according to Lisa Farbstein, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration.
A TSA official spotted the firearm when the man’s bag passed through a checkpoint X-ray machine, Farbstein said.
Airport security confiscated the firearm and detained the man for questioning, Farbstein said. He was later released and allowed to secure the firearm in his vehicle before returning to catch his flight, she said.
It was the third loaded firearm to be found going through the checkpoint at the Portland jetport. On Oct. 30, a Minot woman was caught with a loaded 9 mm handgun tucked into her purse. The next day, a Florida man was found with a loaded 9 mm handgun in his knapsack as he attempted to pass through the checkpoint.
In 2018, 4,239 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints across the country, up from 3,957 the year before, according to data provided by the TSA. Nearly 90 percent of those were loaded, while a third had a bullet in the chamber, according to TSA data.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked and packed separately from ammunition. Anyone who brings an undeclared firearm through a checkpoint can face criminal charges and civil penalties up to $13,333, according to the TSA. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100.