BANGOR — Federal screeners at the Bangor International Airport have intercepted two handguns over five days as passengers were trying to board planes with the guns in their carry-on luggage.
The Transportation Security Administration issued a news release about the incidents, saying it was an unusual occurrence and an opportunity to remind passengers that they can’t carry guns through an airport checkpoint or in their carry-on baggage.
Two guns in one week is a lot for a Maine airport. Through April of this year, three guns had been confiscated at the Bangor airport and one at the Portland International Jetport. A total of 634 firearms had been confiscated at airports nationwide.
The Transportation Security Administration said in the news release that in both recent cases, the Bangor Police Department was alerted and confiscated the guns.
Last Friday, a TSA officer staffing the X-ray machine spotted a handgun inside a firearms case that was within a traveler’s bag as it passed on the conveyor belt, the TSA said.
On Wednesday, another gun was spotted “hidden” amid clothing in a piece of carry-on luggage as it passed through the X-ray machine.
The TSA release included pictures of the two guns, both of which appeared to be black, semiautomatic handguns.
Guns, gun parts and ammunition are not allowed in carry-on luggage but can be included in checked baggage if unloaded, properly stored and declared to the airline, according to the TSA.
The TSA, which can impose fines of up to $11,000 for having a gun at a checkpoint, turned both recent cases over to Bangor police, which can decide whether to file criminal charges. Bangor police did not file charges and have since returned both guns to their owners, according to Lt. Paul Edwards.
While the two recent incidents mean that at least six firearms have been intercepted so far this year at Maine’s two largest airports, no guns were found by the TSA agents in Portland or Bangor in 2013, said agency spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
The airports in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, and Atlanta, Ga., have had the most guns confiscated in the past two years of any American airports. The TSA found 37 guns so far this year and 96 guns last year at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Agents intercepted 26 guns so far this year and 111 guns last year in Atlanta.
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: