He wrapped a gun in aluminum foil to try to get by Kentucky airport screeners. He didn’t.

How to travel on planes with guns

The Transportation Security Administration put out a video with tips for avoiding trouble when traveling with firearms .
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The Transportation Security Administration put out a video with tips for avoiding trouble when traveling with firearms .

A Scott County man who had a loaded gun wrapped in aluminum foil in his checked baggage at Blue Grass Airport received probation and a fine this week in federal court.. He must also forfeit the firearm.

The incident happened Oct. 15 when David B. Upton, 64, of Georgetown presented a bag to be checked onto an outbound flight at the Lexington airport, according to court documents.

Screeners found a Smith & Wesson M&P .380 in the checked baggage. The gun had one live round of ammunition in the trigger guard and an inserted magazine containing six additional rounds, according to a plea agreement.

“Knowing that he could not check a bag containing a loaded firearm and that his checked bag would be subject to security screening, the defendant wrapped the firearm in aluminum foil,” the plea agreement said.

Upton was initially charged with carrying a concealed deadly weapon but that misdemeanor charge was dismissed in Fayette District Court. He was later charged with the federal offense of offering a loaded firearm for transport in checked baggage. He pleaded guilty on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Lexington.

The reason why Upton brought the firearm was not given in court papers, and his attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.

There have been similar incidents at other airports, including one at Memphis International Airport in November when a 70-year-old man wrapped a .22-caliber pistol in aluminum foil.

The Department of Homeland Security has said that aluminum foil does not block X-ray and other screening devices.

On Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Matthew A. Stinnett sentenced Upton to one year of unsupervised probation and a $600 fine.

Under statutory guidelines, Upton could have received a prison sentence of up to one year and up to a $100,000 fine.

The TSA’s rules for traveling with a gun

From July 2018.

  • Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided case and placed in checked baggage. Clips and small arms ammunition must be securely boxed in the case with the unloaded firearm. Ammunition exceeding .75 caliber or shotgun shells cannot go in the same case as the firearm.

  • Don’t put guns, clips, ammunition or other gun parts in carry-on baggage.

  • When you check in, go to the airline ticket counter to declare the firearm, ammunition and firearm parts.

  • Check gun laws at your destination before you fly.

  • Gun replicas also must go in checked luggage.

  • Still unsure what to do? Use the “Can I Bring?” feature on the TSA app. You can also tweet or message “Ask TSA” with questions.
Greg Kocher has been at the Lexington Herald-Leader since 1997. He covers state and federal courts, and some breaking news. From 1997 to 2016, he was a regional reporter who covered counties adjacent to Fayette County.