ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) discovered two loaded firearms this morning at the security screening checkpoint at Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), bringing the total so far for this calendar year to 28. This exceeds last year’s total of 26.
The first firearm, a Smith and Wesson .38 caliber revolver loaded with five rounds, was discovered around 6 a.m. The second, a Ruger .380 pistol loaded also loaded with five rounds, was intercepted around 10 a.m. Both were discovered by TSA transportation security officers during X-ray screening of each passenger’s carry-on bag at the checkpoint. The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) responded, interviewed the passengers, and took possession of their weapons. Both passengers were cited by the APD and released.
“Both firearms were found in the morning, the busiest time of the day for security screening,” said ABQ TSA Federal Security Director Jesse Sanchez. “These types of incidents have a significant impact on our operation and serious consequences for the passenger, so it is critical that travelers understand what can and cannot be packed in a carry-on bag or taken to a checkpoint.”
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.