TSA gun

This loaded Ruger 9mm handgun was detected in a passenger’s carry-on bag at a Tri-Cities Airport checkpoint.

BLOUNTVILLE — The Transportation Security Administration discovered a loaded firearm at a Tri-Cities Airport (TRI) checkpoint Thursday morning.

At approximately 6:45 a.m., a loaded Ruger 9mm handgun was detected in a passenger’s carry-on bag. The TSA immediately alerted airport police, who took possession of the bag and escorted the passenger out of the checkpoint area.

While firearms may be transported in checked baggage (provided they are declared to the airline, in a proper carrying case and unloaded), they are prohibited in carry-on bags.

The TSA would like to remind passengers that it is important for them to thoroughly search their bags for any potential dangerous weapons or prohibited items before departing for the airport.

“Even with much lower than normal passenger numbers, we continue to find firearms at a very high rate at security checkpoints,” said Steve Wood, TSA federal security director for Tennessee. “Passengers must remember they’re responsible for the contents of bags, and our advice is they thoroughly inspect all personal belongings to make sure there are no illegal or prohibited items before coming to the airport.”

This is the second firearm detected by TSA officers at TRI security checkpoints in 2020. A total of three were detected there last year.

In addition to potential criminal charges, passengers who bring firearms to a checkpoint face civil penalties from the TSA.