A Hampden man was briefly detained Friday morning at the Portland International Jetport after he allegedly brought a loaded handgun into the airport.
The man, who was not identified, had a 9 mm handgun loaded with 12 bullets in his backpack when he attempted to pass through a checkpoint, according to Lisa Farbstein, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration.
A TSA officer spotted the gun when the backpack went through the checkpoint’s X-ray machine, and airport police then confiscated the gun and detained the man for questioning, Farbstein said.
Farbstein said the man was allowed to call his wife, who then drove to the airport to pick up the handgun and take it home.
It was the first firearm caught at the jetport checkpoint this year.
In 2019, airport security confiscated three firearms that were caught at the jetport’s checkpoint. On Dec. 10, a Poland man was caught with a loaded 9 mm handgun tucked into the outer pocket of a black messenger bag. 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 all, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at airport checkpoints across the country in 2019, up from 4,239 the year before, according to data provided by the TSA. Nearly 87 percent of those were loaded, 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.