Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport experienced a moment of panic Saturday after a gun was accidentally discharged in the security area. While it’s not clear why anyone had a loaded gun while traveling through the airport, the moment offered a rocky start to the holiday week.
Flights were delayed briefly, according to reports, Saturday afternoon. The Atlanta Airport’s Twitter account assured travelers there was not an active shooter or a clear danger.
One video reshared by Shannon Watts, founder of the gun violence organization Moms Demand Action, showed passengers down on the ground. People can be heard yelling get down in the background.
Video of the aftermath shows some areas in disarray with abandoned items, including luggage and knocked-over wheelchair.
According to CNN, a passenger’s loaded gun went off at some point during the security process. It was unclear whether the gun discharged due to the security officer or the passenger reaching into the bag.
No injuries were reported, and airport traffic returned to normal.
News reports made the rounds of loaded guns at the Pittsburgh International Airport TSA checkpoint and the Lehigh Valley International Airport in the past few days. Lehigh Valley Regional News 69 reported that TSA officers removed a 9mm handgun from someone’s carry-on bag. Local news indicated there was one bullet in the chamber and loaded with six bullets in total.
Two women were caught with loaded guns at the TSA checkpoint in Pittsburgh. 11 News reported that a woman caught on Friday morning didn’t realize the gun, registered to her husband, was in her carry-on bag. The day before, another woman was found with a loaded .380 caliber gun, including one bullet in the chamber. Both women will face federal civil penalties.
Federal civil penalties for a “security violation by individuals for prohibited items discovered at checkpoint/sterile area/onboard aircraft” start at $360 for flammable items like gasoline or lighter fluid. The penalty for a loaded firearm begins at $3,000 and could cost a passenger as much as $10,000 along with a criminal referral. Penalties for repeat violators start at $10,000.
Federal regulations provide for the transport of unloaded guns in checked, not carry-on, baggage. The Transporation Security Administration even has a short video about traveling with firearms.
Forbes covered the “forgotten gun” epidemic in April noting that 83 percent of guns found at the checkpoint were loaded.