TSA finds loaded handgun in woman's carry-on bag at Mitchell Intl. Airport

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee woman was stopped by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport on Thursday, Feb. 13, when they detected a purple 9 mm caliber handgun loaded with 10 bullets including one in the chamber, in her carry-on bag.

Loaded handgun stopped at Mitchell International Airport checkpoint

"Immediately what we do, the lane is closed down, the firearm is contained in the unit and then the whole lane needs to move over to another lane," said Frank Pipia, TSA spokesperson.

TSA officials notified the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and detained the woman for questioning prior to allowing her to return the handgun to her vehicle.

The woman told deputies she forgot the firearm was in her luggage. But a TSA spokesperson said a mistake like that should not happen -- and will cost the woman a lot.

The alarming discovery shocked travelers waiting to board their flights on Friday.

"The thought of someone needing to pack a loaded gun on the flight is extremely upsetting and unnerving," said Rachel Kaiser, a Beaver Dam resident.

The handgun is the second caught at security checkpoints at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport so far in 2020.

Guns caught at Mitchell International Airport 2015 to 2020

Year 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

(As of 2-13-20)
Mitchell International Airport Guns caught at checkpoints  













In this most recent incident, the woman was ordered to return the gun to her vehicle before boarding. She was also cited $760 by the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office. Pipia told FOX6 News she could also face a hefty federal fine -- ranging from $4,000 to $13,000.

You can travel with a weapon

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.

As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed firearm permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes in their carry-on bags. If the individual is a TSA Pre✓® member, that person could even lose their TSA Pre✓® status. In addition, TSA has the authority to assess civil penalties of up to $13,333 for weapons violations. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100. The complete list of penalties is posted online.

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