TSA advises passengers traveling with firearms, ammunition

Local Press Release
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Wednesday provided tips for passengers who are traveling with firearms on a commercial aircraft.

“Every day at airports across the country, TSA officers detect firearms - many of them loaded - during the security checkpoint screening process,” said Cliff Van Leuven, TSA federal security director for Minnesota. “Passengers are allowed to travel with firearms, but it is important that certain procedures are followed to ensure it is done legally.”

Firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and transported in checked baggage. Ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames, receivers, clips and magazines are also prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be checked with the airline.

At the airport during the check-in process, a passenger should go to the airline ticket counter to declare firearms, ammunition and any firearm parts. Prior to traveling, passengers are encouraged to check gun laws and regulations at their destination to ensure compliance with local and state laws.

Firearm magazines and ammunition clips - whether loaded or empty - must be securely packed in a hard-sided case containing the unloaded firearm. Small arms ammunition not exceeding .75 caliber for a rifle or pistol and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be transported in the same case as the firearm.

Any type of replica firearm is prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage. However, rifle scopes can be transported in either carry-on or checked bags.

If a passenger brings a firearm to the TSA security checkpoint, the traveler can be cited by law enforcement on a local or state charge. TSA will also levy a civil penalty against the passenger. The recommended civil penalty range is between $3,000 and $7,500. TSA evaluates each incident on a case-by-case basis.

“Passengers will be held accountable for the contents of their carry-on and checked baggage,” said Federal Security Director Van Leuven. “The rules for air travel are different than for other types of travel. The best piece of advice I can give is to unpack your bags before you pack them to ensure you are aware of the contents of your luggage prior to coming to the airport.”

Nationwide during the first eight months of 2016, TSA has discovered more than 2,150 firearms in passengers’ carry-ons during routine screening of personal property at security checkpoints. During the first eight months of 2015, TSA found 1,898 firearms. During all of calendar year 2015, TSA found 2,653 firearms in passengers’ carry-on bags, up from 2,212 in 2014.

Since Jan. 1, 2016, TSA officers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) have discovered 24 firearms in passengers’ carry-on baggage at the security checkpoint.  During all of 2015, TSA officers at MSP discovered 23 firearms in passengers’ carry-on bags. There were 18 firearms discovered in 2014.

TSA has multiple resources available to passengers to help them determine whether an item is permitted in carry-on baggage, checked baggage or not at all. For more information, visit the travel page on tsa.gov.