After being apprehended by Australian authorities while attempting to transport a loaded gun on an international aircraft to the United States in his hand luggage, an Australian citizen faces a 10-year prison sentence.
Although the Australian Federal Police have ruled out terrorism, prosecutors believe the 47-year-old man brought the rifle and ammo with him to Australia, despite the fact that routine security scans on the outbound flight had failed to identify the firearm.
On Sunday, federal police officers were called to the scene after the pistol was discovered in his hand luggage as it passed through an x-ray scanner at Sydney International Airport (SYD). The man was detained on the scene after a loaded Ruger pistol with one bullet in the chamber was discovered in his luggage.
He faces three charges, including a particular customs offense that carries a potential sentence of ten years in prison. The man has also been charged with carrying a weapon through a security checkpoint, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.
In Australia, gun ownership is strictly controlled, and the man allegedly did not have the authorization to carry the firearm. He might face another five years in prison if he is found in possession of a handgun without authorization.
“The man claimed he had forgotten the weapon was in his luggage but this situation could have had deadly consequences for other travelers, 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 traveling public.”
The number of firearms detected by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at U.S. airports set a new record last year, with more than 4,495 travelers being stopped from bringing guns on board planes in the first ten months of 2021 alone.
According to the government agency, security agents discovered 11 guns per million travelers examined. Since before the epidemic, when just five firearms per million passengers were found in 2019, the number of guns detected has risen dramatically.
“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.”
If a passenger tries to take a loaded firearm in their carry-on luggage, the TSA can fine them between $3,000 and $10,000. Offenders may also be reported for a criminal prosecution, however, suspects are rarely charged by local law enforcement agencies.
The potential punishment for offenders contrasts drastically with what suspects may face in foreign countries where gun offenses are treated with zero tolerance. An honest blunder might land otherwise law-abiding folks in jail.