LAKELAND — U.S. Rep. Ross Spano drew the attention of security workers at Tampa International Airport on Wednesday when he tried to board a flight while carrying a concealed and loaded gun, the Washington Post reported.
Spano, R-Dover, was questioned and missed his scheduled flight to Washington, D.C., the Post reported Thursday. Spano reached a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint inside the airport about 7:50 a.m. Wednesday while carrying a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm handgun loaded with seven rounds, the article said.
The TSA staff detected the weapon, according to a Facebook post from Spano, and asked him about it. Spano has a concealed carry permit, and he wasn’t detained or arrested, an airport spokeswoman told the Post.
The TSA staff allowed Spano to secure the weapon, most likely by returning to his vehicle to store it there, the Post reported. The TSA can impose fines of up to $13,000 for carrying prohibited weapons into a checkpoint, even without an arrest, the article said.
Spano, 54, posted on Facebook after the Post published its article, saying “something crazy” had happened. He said he has received death threats in recent years and obtained a concealed weapon permit and began carrying a gun when in Florida.
“This week I forgot to remove my firearm from my leather bag before I went to the airport to fly back to Washington,” Spano wrote. “You can imagine my embarrassment and surprise when TSA personnel stopped me at security and asked me if I knew there was a handgun in my bag.”
Spano wrote that TSA workers and law enforcement officers verified his identity, confirmed his concealed-carry license and checked for warrants before allowing him to board another flight.
“BIG SHOUT OUT to the great TSA personnel and law enforcement who were all extremely professional, and properly guarded, in their actions,” Spano wrote in the post, which included a smiley face emoji. “I’m sorry for wasting your valuable time, and thanks again for doing such a great job keeping us safe each and every day!”
Spano’s office offered no further comment on the incident.
Spano, a first-term representative, lost to Scott Franklin of Lakeland in the August Republican primary election and will leave Congress in January. He is facing an investigation by the Department of Justice for possible violations of campaign-finance regulations in the 2018 election.
Gary White can be reached at email@example.com or 863-802-7518. Follow on Twitter @garywhite13.