Sunday, June 12, 2022

TSA Makes Weapons Arrests at Airports

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Transportation Security Administration officers at the city’s two airports stopped four handguns from making their way onto flights in separate incidents within a four-day period this month.

• Sunday, June 5 at a Midway checkpoint. The gun was loaded with a round chambered.

• Tuesday, June 7 at an O’Hare checkpoint. The gun was unloaded.

• Wednesday, June 8 at an O’Hare checkpoint. The gun was loaded with a round chambered.

• Wednesday, June 8 at a Midway checkpoint. The gun was loaded.

In the June 5 incident, the person arrested was 37-year-old Mario Jamon Smith, of Houston, Texas. He was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.
Mario Smith

In the June 8 incident at Midway, the person arrested was 41-year-old Chance Stephen Johnson, of the 1400 block of West Grand. He was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, as well as possession of a revoked FOID card.

In all incidents, passengers presented their carry-on bags for screening and TSA officers detected the firearms on the X-ray. TSA officers contacted Chicago Police for further action.
Chance Johnson

“With summer travel ramping up, our TSA officers continue to do a fantastic job preventing firearms from entering the secure area of the airport,” said Dereck Starks, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Illinois. “Let me be clear: Guns are never allowed in carry-on luggage. Bringing a firearm to the checkpoint can have serious consequences and endangers other passengers.”

Including these firearms, 36 guns have been stopped at O’Hare so far in 2022, and 18 have been detected at Midway. In 2021, TSA officers stopped a total of 91 guns at O’Hare security checkpoints and 42 at Midway.

TSA issues civil penalties to travelers who bring guns to a checkpoint. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100. The complete list of civil penalties is on the TSA website. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck, that individual will lose TSA PreCheck privileges for a period of time.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed separately from ammunition in a locked hardback case and declared at the airline check-in counter. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should check for firearm laws in the jurisdictions they are flying to and from.

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted at Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

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