Transportation Security Administration officials discovered a loaded firearm in a carry-on bag at Columbia Metropolitan Airport Thursday.
Officials monitoring a security checkpoint found a loaded .45 caliber handgun in a passenger’s carry-on bag about 1:30 p.m., according to TSA regional spokesperson Mark Howell.
TSA officers identified the outline of a handgun on a X-ray machine in a backpack and pulled Matthew Cutter aside, according to the incident report.
Cutter, 31, of West Columbia has a valid S.C. concealed weapons permit and told officials he carries the handgun in his backpack. He said he forgot to remove it before traveling to Houston for a religious conference, the report stated.
The report stated Cutter does not have prior criminal history.
Police seized his gun and allowed Cutter to continue on his travels through the airport.
He was charged with weapons violation and had his bond set at $1,092.50.
Howell said about 80 percent of the time firearms found in carry-on bags are loaded, including in this incident.
This is the second firearm discovered by TSA at Columbia Metropolitan Airport this year, and 11 were found in 2015. Howell said TSA has seen a 25 percent increase in the amount of passengers who bring guns to airports, with 2,212 in 2014 and 2,653 in 2015. He said that trend is expected to continue this year.
Passengers can only transport firearms in checked baggage after they are declared to the airline, in a proper carrying case and unloaded.
Howell estimated 99.99 percent of people who bring guns to airports have no intent of carrying it onto an aircraft, though it is each passengers’ responsibility to not have prohibited items with them.
“Passengers are responsible for the contents of bags they bring to the checkpoint,” Howell said. “Our advice is to look through bags thoroughly before coming to the airport to make sure there are no illegal or prohibited items.”