The Transportation Security Administration at Syracuse's Hancock International Airport made a startling discovery in a carry on bag at a security checkpoint Monday.

Officials say TSA officers discovered a .45 caliber handgun, which belonged to a Madison County man, with five bullets loaded in it. The TSA says an officer noticed the weapon while operating an X-ray machine at the checkpoint while the man's possessions were being screened. The discovery prompted an immediate call to Syracuse Police.

As a result of the discovery Syracuse Police responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and began questioning the man from Erieville, New York. Officials say the man's actions now subject him to Federal civil penalties, which could mean a hefty fine. TSA officials say a typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100 and can go as high as $13,669 depending on any mitigating circumstances.

Bart Johnson is the TSA Federal Security Director. Director Johnson says "It is once again disappointing to discover a loaded handgun in carry-on luggage at the checkpoint, that was brought to the airport by an individual who failed to be aware of where their weapon was." He went on to commend the officers involved for their due diligence. Not only will the discovery a loaded handgun have negative implications for the owner, but a discovery like that could cause major delays for other travelers.

The TSA advises gun owners of the following regulations on firearms.

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

Last year alone, TSA officials say 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags were discovered at airport checkpoints last year. At Syracuse Hancock International Airport last year 4 loaded firearms were discovered. TSA officials are reminding and encouraging people to always be aware of where their weapons are and the condition they are in.

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