Officials weren't alerted to the incident, which unfolded on January 2, until several hours later when the traveler landed in Tokyo and spoke with a Delta official. After the passenger disclosed the information to the airline, the US' Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was brought into the matter.
"TSA has determined standard procedures were not followed, and a passenger did in fact pass through a standard screening TSA checkpoint with a firearm at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on January 2," Thomas Kelly, spokesperson for the agency, told Sputnik News.
"TSA will hold those responsible appropriately accountable." Kelly would not confirm whether the firearm was loaded at the time of transit.
It's presently unclear if the gun-carrying individual will be hit with any fines or other punishment, and what forms of disciplinary action will be taken against TSA agents present at the time of the passenger's questionable clearance.
A similar incident occurred in December 2018 when a Mississippi man at Pennsylvania's Pittsburgh International Airport brought a loaded gun in his carry-on; however, in that particular episode TSA agents did detect the weapon. The man was later apprehended by county police and cited on weapons charges. He also faced a civil penalty from TSA.
Although the transportation agency has indicated that the current partial government shutdown has not affected its ability to keep checkpoints fully staffed, travelers at the Atlanta airport have been left stuck in long lines and dealt with extended waiting periods as a result of shuttered checkpoints.
"Lines are long this morning, but they usually are on Mondays," Elise Durham, the airport's communications director, told NBC News. "We are down a few security lines, but things are moving pretty efficiently."
Elsewhere, the TSA checkpoint at terminal B of Texas' George Bush Intercontinental Airport was closed for an undisclosed amount of time due to staffing shortages caused by the partial shutdown, which has left hundred of thousands of federal workers furloughed.
Though the TSA has stated that it will compensate its employees with a day's pay in addition to a $500 bonus, many are instead deciding to submit their resignation letters, Yahoo Finance reported. Some workers are calling in sick as a form of protest.
"Every day I'm getting calls from my members about their extreme financial hardship and need for a paycheck," TSA Council President Hydrick Thomas told Yahoo. "Some of them have already quit and many are considering quitting the federal workforce because of the shutdown."
The government shutdown, which was initiated after US lawmakers failed to provide US President Donald Trump with funding for his border wall, has been the longest in US history since entering its 22nd day. The previous record of 21 days was set during the Clinton administration.
The shutdown is currently on day 24.