SEATTLE – Officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) discovered a loaded firearm in the carry-on bag of a passenger departing Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Friday morning.
The firearm was a Smith & Wesson .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol loaded with seven rounds of ammunition. A TSA officer discovered it at about 4:45 a.m. in the bag of a male passenger ticketed for travel to Los Angeles International Airport. Upon seeing the image of the firearm on the X-ray screen, TSA notified the Port of Seattle Police Department, which responded to the security checkpoint and arrested the passenger on a state charge.
This is the fourth loaded firearm TSA officers at Sea-Tac Airport have discovered this month during routine screening of carry-on baggage. On Sunday, Sept. 17, a TSA officer spotted a Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Shield in the carry-on of a male passenger traveling to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, Calif.
This incident came on the heels of the discovery of a .38 caliber Taurus Ultra-Lite revolver in the carry-on bag of a male passenger headed to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Friday, Sept. 15. A TSA officer found a SCCY CPX-1 9 mm handgun on Monday, Sept. 4, in the carry-on of a male passenger traveling to Salt Lake City International Airport. All passengers were arrested by Port of Seattle Police on state charges.
Today’s firearm find at Sea-Tac Airport brings the yearly total to 55. This is a 30 percent increase over the same time last year when local TSA officers had found 42 guns in carry-on baggage.
So far in 2017, TSA officers nationwide have discovered more than 2,800 firearms in passengers’ carry-on bags. During all of 2016, TSA officers found 3,391 firearms at security checkpoints across the country.
“The message to travelers could not be more clear or straightforward: never bring a firearm to the security checkpoint in a carry-on bag,” said Jeff Holmgren, TSA Federal Security Director for the state of Washington. “If you are planning to travel with a firearm, please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the rules for transporting a gun on a commercial aircraft.”
Firearms, ammunition, firearm parts and realistic replicas of firearms are always prohibited in carry-on baggage. However, these items can be transported in checked baggage provided the traveler declares them to the airline during the ticket counter check-in process.
Firearms in checked baggage must be unloaded and stored in a locked, hard-sided container. TSA urges passengers to contact their airline for specific firearm and ammunition policies and to check local laws related to the carrying and transport of firearms.
In addition to facing local or state criminal charges, TSA may issue a civil penalty of up to $7,500 for bringing a dangerous weapon like a firearm to the checkpoint. Each penalty is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
TSA reminds passengers to be aware of the contents of their carry-on bag prior to coming to the security checkpoint. 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 our prohibited items page or use the MyTSA mobile app.
Our website also has additional information specifically related to the commercial air transport of firearms and ammunition.