PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A man is facing federal charges after allegedly trying to pass through Philadelphia International Airport security with a gun in his shoe.
TSA agents discovered the 25-caliber handgun at a checkpoint on Wednesday.
Police confiscated the firearm and arrested the man who is a Philadelphia resident. TSA officials say the gun was not loaded.
"If somebody was pretty determined to try to sneak a gun through the checkpoint, we're just as determined to make sure that does not happen," said TSA Spokesperson Lisa Farbstein.
Not only are TSA officers highly skilled at what they do, they have the latest technology at their disposal. Five new state-of-the-art 3D scanners are located throughout Philadelphia International Airport.
"The TSA officer can manipulate that screen and look at the bag in varying different angles to try and determine what's inside," explained Farbstein.
TSA officials note that the number of people caught trying to get guns passed checkpoints this year is sharply up.
In July 2019, across the U.S., TSA detected 5.1 guns per million travelers. In July of this year, officials reported 15.3 guns per million travelers-- that's more than three times higher.
"And here's the kicker, there is a pandemic," said Farbstein.
Passenger volume due to COVID-19 has been down since March -- roughly 70 to 75%. So why is there an increasing number of people illegally trying to get on planes with guns?
"We think that a lot of these people who are traveling just aren't familiar with the rules and regulations," said Farbstein.
Even so, it's been illegal to bring a gun on a plane long before TSA came into existence just after 9-11.
"You actually can transport your gun on a plane, we're happy to help you do that," Farbstein said.
"Our guys are good, the technology is there to catch it. And our guys are sharp, so you're gonna get caught trying to get a gun through," said Local TSA Union President Joe Shuker.
The TSA outlines how to legally transport a legal weapon on board a plane.