Two guns were stopped at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport checkpoints in the past week, bringing this year’s total to 24 — matching last year’s number, the Transportation Security Administration said.
The number is up sharply from recent years, both at BWI and airports nationwide, despite ongoing efforts by authorities to remind passengers to leave weapons and other prohibited items at home. The penalty can be stiff, too: Passengers who bring firearms into security areas of airports can face a civil penalty of up to $13,000, and a first offense is often $3,900, according to TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
In the most recent incident, Jerome Best, 69, of Syracuse, N.Y., was arrested after TSA officers found a loaded, .38 caliber gun in his carry-on luggage at the airport Wednesday, the Transportation Security Administration said.
Best faces state weapons charges, Maryland Transportation Authority police said.
TSA officers found the gun as it was going through the X-Ray machine, the agency said. He told authorities he forgot he was carrying his “38 Special” handgun with him, the TSA said.
No attorney was listed for Best, and he could not be reached for comment at a phone number listed for his Syracuse home Thursday.
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In the earlier incident, Joseph Johnson, 30, was arrested Dec. 13 at the airport with a .380 caliber gun with an obliterated serial number, loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber, the TSA said.
When the gun went across the X-Ray monitor, Johnson “realized his attempt at sneaking the gun past the checkpoint had been thwarted, and he left the checkpoint area,” the TSA said.
Johnson — who was prohibited from possessing a weapon, according to Maryland Transportation Authority Police — faces a slew of charges, including illegally possessing a gun and obliterating the serial number, in addition to usual state weapons charges.
An attorney listed for Johnson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Passengers traveling through any airport should make sure any prohibited items are removed before leaving the house, said Maryland Transportation Authority Police spokesman Lt. Kevin Ayd.