For the second time in two days, Transportation Security Administration agents and airport police found a loaded gun at a security checkpoint at the Portland International Jetport, the TSA said Friday.

On Thursday, a Florida man was found with a loaded 9 mm handgun in a backpack that he sent through an X-ray scanner, the TSA said in a statement.

The gun was being carried in a soft zipper case, according to photos released by the TSA.

It is the second handgun detected this year at the jetport. The first was found a day earlier on Wednesday, when a Minot woman sent her purse, which contained a loaded 9 mm pistol, through an X-ray machine. She told investigators she forgot that the gun was in her handbag.

The timing of the discoveries was a coincidence, said TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein, and do not reflect any change in process or procedure at the jetport.

“I can tell you this,” Farbstein said. “We catch a lot of guns in airports nationwide.” The most common excuse, she said, was that travelers forgot they were carrying the weapon. The second most common is to blame a spouse.


“The second most common excuse is that my husband packed my bag or my wife packed my bag,” Farbstein said. “I can tell you neither excuse flies.”

Gun owners should always know the location of their weapons, Farbstein said. In both cases, TSA agents called Portland police, who checked that the person carrying the gun was not a felon or had warrants out for their arrest.  As long as people clear those legal hurdles and there is no federal agency that requests seizing the gun, the firearms are returned to their owners, said Portland police Lt. Robert Martin.

“We let the person bring it back to the vehicle and secure it, or take it home,” Martin said. “Just not on the airplane.”

Last year, TSA agents found 4,239 firearms at airport security checkpoints nationwide, the highest number of seizures since 2008, when agents found only 926.

In 2018, only four firearms were found at the jetport, and three were found in 2017, according to the TSA.

“Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared,” Farbstein said. “Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition.”


Bringing a firearm to a TSA checkpoint is a federal civil infraction that carries a fine as high as $13,333. Most first-time offenders are fined about $4,100.

The TSA keeps a blog tracking some of the dangerous or illegal items they find. It mostly showcases of firearms and ammunition seized from passengers arranged in a bi-weekly photo collage of weaponry.

In 2018, there were an estimated 393 million firearms owned by civilians in circulation throughout the United States, according to an annual survey conducted by the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

Between Sept. 23 and Oct. 6 alone, TSA reported finding 206 firearms nationwide. But they are not the only potentially dangerous – or dangerous-looking – items the agency found in that period.

Travelers in Detroit and in San Antonio tried to bring empty hand grenades onto a flight. And someone traveling from the Oklahoma City airport apparently packed a six-inch long replica artillery shell. Even when packed in checked luggage, explosives or explosive replicas are not permitted aboard U.S. airliners.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story