Albuquerque, N.M. — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) discovered an unloaded firearm this morning at the security screening checkpoint at Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ). This is the second firearm found at the airport in two days.
The firearm, a 9 mm Berretta Nano, along with two magazines loaded with five rounds each, were discovered by TSA transportation security officers during X-ray screening of a passenger’s carry-on bag at the checkpoint. The Albuquerque police responded, interviewed the passenger, and took possession of the weapon. The passenger was cited on a local charge and later allowed to continue to a flight.
This is the 17th firearm found at the ABQ checkpoint so far this year. In 2017, there were 26 firearms found at the checkpoint.
“Both yesterday and today, these firearms were found in the early morning, the busiest time of the day for security screening. In both cases, the discovery of a firearm resulted in a more than a 20 minute wait time, since one lane had to be shut down until the incidents were resolved,” said ABQ TSA Federal Security Director Jesse Sanchez.
Passengers who bring a firearm to an airport security checkpoint are referred to law enforcement and will receive a civil penalty from TSA of up to $13,000. The average civil penalty for a loaded firearm is $3,900, half that amount for an unloaded one.
Firearms are only allowed in checked bags, if declared to the airline and properly packed in a locked, hard-sided container. Ammunition, firearm parts and realistic replicas also cannot be carried through any TSA security checkpoint, but can travel in checked bags. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure. Some airline policies for taking a firearm in a checked bag may differ from TSA’s, so we strongly suggest travelers contact their airline for specific firearm and ammunition policies and to check local laws related to the carrying and transport of firearms.
TSA found a record-breaking 3,957 firearms at airport security checkpoints around the country in 2017, a 17 percent increase over 2016.