TSA detects loaded handgun at Boise Airport security checkpoint

First firearm discovered in carry-on luggage at Idaho airports in 2019
Local Press Release
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

BOISE, Idaho – Officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the Boise Airport discovered a loaded firearm in the carry-on luggage of a female traveler ticketed for travel to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Wednesday morning. This is the first firearm discovered in a carry-on bag by TSA at any airport in Idaho so far this year.

The firearm, a 9 mm Smith & Wesson M&P shield pistol, was loaded with seven rounds of ammunition. A TSA officer spotted the image of the gun on the X-ray screen at 5:40 a.m. MDT during the routine screening of carry-on luggage.

TSA notified the Boise Police Department and they responded to the security checkpoint. They interviewed the traveler and confiscated the weapon. The incident has been referred to the Ada County prosecutor’s office for review. The traveler missed her flight.

“Flying safe means flying aware - aware of your surroundings, your situation and aware of the items in your bags,” said Andy Coose, TSA federal security director for Idaho. “Double check before you head to the airport to make sure there is nothing prohibited in your carry-on luggage.”

TSA will review the circumstances of the incident to determine if the agency can levy a civil penalty against the passenger. The recommended civil penalty for a firearm starts at $2,000 and can go up to the statutory maximum of $13,333 per violation.

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 rules regarding traveling with firearms will have 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.

Despite this being the first firearm discovery in Idaho this year, nationwide the number of firearms discoveries in travelers’ carry-on luggage has increased year over year. Below is a chart dating back to 2016 with national and statewide data for Idaho.



All Idaho airports










2019 (through March 27)



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.

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 travel page on tsa.gov. 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.

TSA’s website has details on how to properly travel with a firearm. The complete list of penalties is posted online.