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American Stopped With Loaded Gun in His Hand Luggage at Sydney Airport Trying to Board U.S.-Bound Flight

American Stopped With Loaded Gun in His Hand Luggage at Sydney Airport Trying to Board U.S.-Bound Flight

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A U.S. citizen faces the threat of spending 10-years in prison after being arrested by Australian police when he tried to take a loaded gun with him in his hand luggage on an international flight to the United States.

Australian Federal Police have ruled out terrorism, but prosecutors suspect the 47-year-old man brought the gun and ammunition with him to Australia, and routine security searches had failed to detect the firearm on the outbound flight.

The firearm was spotted in his hand luggage as it passed through an x-ray machine at Sydney International Airport (SYD) on Sunday and federal police officers were called to the scene. A loaded Ruger pistol with one bullet in the chamber was found in the luggage, and the man was arrested on the spot.

He has been charged with three separate offences, including a special customs offence which carries a maximum 10-year jail term. The man has also been charged with carrying a weapon through an security checkpoint which can be punished with up to seven years imprisonment.

Firearm possession is tightly regulated in Australia, and the man allegedly did not have a permit to carry the weapon. He faces a further five years in prison for unauthorised possession of a firearm.

“The man claimed he had forgotten the weapon was in his luggage but this situation could have had deadly consequences for other travellers, even if it had discharged accidentally during the flight,” commented AFP Sydney Airport Police Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Scott Sykes.

“Security screening staff at the airport were vigilant and along with AFP officers, acted quickly to ensure the safety of the travelling public.”

Last year proved to be record-breaking for the number of firearms detected by the Transporation Security Administration (TSA) at U.S. airports after more than 4,495 passengers were stopped from carrying guns onto flights in the first 10-months of 2021 alone.

Security officers found 11 firearms per million passengers screened, according to the federal agency. The number of guns detected has ballooned since before the pandemic when only five firearms per million passengers were detected in 2019.

“The number of firearms that our TSA officers are stopping at airport checkpoints is alarming,” commented TSA Administrator David Pekoske last October.

“Firearms, particularly loaded firearms, introduce an unnecessary risk at checkpoints, have no place in the passenger cabin of an airplane, and represent a very costly mistake for the passengers who attempt to board a flight with them.”

The TSA has the power to fine passengers between US $3,000 and $10,000 for trying to take a loaded firearm in their carry-on luggage. Offenders could also be referred for criminal prosecution, but local law enforcement agencies very rarely charge suspects.

The possible punishment for offenders contrasts sharply with what could await suspects in foreign countries where a zero-tolerance approach is taken to firearms offences. An honest mistake could result in jail time for otherwise law-abiding citizens.

View Comments (3)
  • The only part of this story that’s remarkable is that the TSA actually found the gun. If this was an accident, and there is every reason to believe it was, nobody was ever in any danger and this was a harmless mistake.

  • “Accident” my arse! This bloke brought the handgun into Australia by air according to the story. It got past TSA security leaving the USA. Therefore, one can only assume he knew he had it during his stay in Australia and chose to carry it back on the plane for the return trip. I find it hard to believe that he did not see it in his bag during his stay. It was the Australian screeners that spotted it departing for the USA – not the TSA. This lad is looking at some time at Her Majesty’s Hotel.

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