BOSTON — Federal officials on Wednesday said Transportation Security Administration officers across New England stopped 36 handguns at checkpoints in 2019, a decrease from the 45 that were caught in 2018.

The 2019 numbers include a Minot woman who was stopped trying to carry a loaded 9 mm handgun through a checkpoint at the Portland International Jetport in October.

The decrease in numbers at  New England airports bucks a national trend as nationwide, as TSA officers caught more firearms at checkpoints nationwide in 2019 than in the agency’s 18-year history.

In total, federal officials said 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags or on passengers at checkpoints across the country last year, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day – about a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from 4,239 detected in 2018. TSA officials said 87% of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.

Travelers who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA. Even if a traveler has a concealed weapon permit, firearms are not permitted to be carried onto an airplane. However, travelers with proper firearm permits can travel legally with their firearms in their checked bags if they follow a few simple guidelines.

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website at tsa.gov.


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