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Just hours after a new Texas state law concerning carry-on firearms in secure airport zones went into effect comes news that NBA superstar Dwight Howard was detained at Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Friday for possessing a handgun in his carry-on bag.
Citing Houston Police Department spokesperson Kese Smith, ESPN reported Howard was stopped by Transportation Security Administration screeners at 7 a.m. local time Friday after a pistol was uncovered in his bag.
After the discovery, which occurred in Terminal E, authorities allowed Howard to hand over the gun to an associate and he was allowed to board a later flight.
The Houston District Attorney's office has declined to press any charges against the eight-time All-Star.
Smith told ESPN that Howard's situation "isn't unusual."
While Howard may be among the most high-profile air travelers to be caught with a gun at airport security, he certainly isn't alone.
After all, Houston's top two airports, George Bush and William P. Hobby Airport, both ranked in the top 10 in TSA gun catches in 2014 with 77 and 50, respectively. Meanwhile, nearby Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport led the nation in firearm catches last year with 120.
Nationwide, more than 2,200 guns were seized by TSA screeners in 2014.
The new Texas state law that went into effect Tuesday makes it so that a concealed handgun license holder who accidentally brings a firearm into a secure airport zone can avoid arrest on a felony charge by agreeing to immediately leave the area after being alerted by TSA.
It's unclear whether Howard's pistol was loaded, but that can make a huge difference when it comes to potential civil penalties handed down by the TSA. While an unloaded gun seizure can result in a fine as high as $3,000, the fine for a loaded gun can reach $7,500.
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