TSA advises passengers on how to travel with firearms, ammunition

Archived Content

Please note that older content is archived for public record. This page may contain information that is outdated and may not reflect current policy or programs.

If you have questions about policies or procedures, please contact the TSA Contact Center.

Members of the news media may contact TSA Public Affairs.

Local Press Release
Thursday, July 26, 2018

PHOENIX – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on July 26 provided tips for passengers who are traveling with firearms and ammunition on a commercial aircraft.

“Every day, at airports across the country, TSA officers detect firearms – many of them loaded - during the routine security checkpoint screening process,” said Scot Thaxton, deputy federal security director for Arizona. “Passengers are allowed to travel with firearms, but it is important that certain procedures are followed to ensure it is done properly.”

Firearms can be transported on a commercial aircraft only if they are unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case and placed 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.

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

Firearm magazines and ammunition clips - whether loaded or empty – must be securely boxed in a hard-sided case containing the unloaded firearm. Small arms ammunition that does not exceed .75 caliber for a rifle or pistol and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be transported in the same case as the firearm. TSA recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.

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

If a passenger brings a firearm to the TSA security checkpoint, TSA will levy a civil penalty against the passenger. The recommended civil penalty starts at $1,960 and can be as high as $9,800. The factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount include whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition. TSA evaluates each incident on a case-by-case basis.

Individuals who violate the rules above will have their Trusted Traveler status and TSA Pre✓® expedited screening benefits revoked for a period of time. The duration of the disqualification will depend upon the seriousness of the offense and if there is a repeated history of violations.

Nationwide and locally, the number of firearms discovered in travelers’ carry-on luggage has increased year over year. Here is a chart detailing the increase:



PHX / rank nationally



79 / 3rd



73 / 5th



101 /4th



115 / 5th

2018 (thru July 24)


65 / 6th

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.

Travelers can use the “Can I Bring?” feature on the TSA mobile app, myTSA, or visit the TSA web site. Travelers can also Tweet or Message “AskTSA” if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag. Just snap a picture or send a question and get real-time assistance every day from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. MST.

In addition to potential criminal charges, passengers who bring firearms to a checkpoint face civil penalties from TSA.