SEATTLE – An officer with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac Airport) discovered a loaded firearm in the carry-on bag of a male traveler ticketed for travel to Orlando International Airport Monday morning.
The firearm, a Ruger LCR .357 caliber compact revolver, was discovered around 6:45 a.m. during the routine screening of carry-on luggage in the security checkpoint. TSA immediately notified the Port of Seattle Police Department and they responded to the security checkpoint. They interviewed the traveler and confiscated the weapon. The passenger was arrested on a state charge.
“Today’s firearm discovery is a reminder of the important role our Transportation Security Officers play in preventing guns and other security threats from making it onto an aircraft,” said TSA’s Federal Security Director for Washington Jeff Holmgren. “Despite record numbers of travelers being screened through the security checkpoints at Sea-Tac Airport, our officers remain focused on their important responsibilities while maintaining efficient and effective security operations.”
TSA will review the circumstances of the incident and levy a civil penalty against the traveler who brought the firearm to the security checkpoint. 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.
In addition to civil penalties, 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.
Each time a passenger brings a firearm to the security checkpoint, it significantly slows passenger screening operations. Last week, TSA at Sea-Tac Airport announced that it was prepared for what is projected to be the busiest summer travel season ever, with a record number of travelers departing Sea-Tac Airport between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. TSA locally projects it will screen more than 6.8 million travelers this summer, a 5% increase over 2018 summer levels.
Monday’s firearm discovery in carry-on luggage was the sixth this month. On Saturday, June 1, TSA officers discovered two firearms: an unloaded .22 caliber Derringer firearm and a.25 caliber Beretta 21A Bobcat loaded with nine rounds of ammunition. On Friday, June 7, TSA detected a.45 caliber Kimber Ultra Carry firearm loaded with seven rounds. On Sunday, June 9, a .40 caliber Sig Sauer P226 Elite pistol was discovered loaded with 18 rounds. On Thursday, June 13, TSA officers discovered a loaded 9mm Glock loaded with four rounds of ammunition. All travelers were cited on state charges.
The six firearm finds in June bring the total number of firearms discovered by TSA at Sea-Tac Airport in 2019 to 29. Of those guns, 24 were loaded. Nationwide, TSA officers have discovered 1,962 firearms in carry-on luggage so far this year with 1,716 of those loaded with at least one round of ammunition.
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. Any type of replica firearm is prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage.
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. TSA also recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.
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 https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all. 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.
Additional traveler information specifically related to the commercial air transport of firearms and ammunition can be found at http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition. More information on TSA’s civil penalties for prohibited items can be found at https://www.tsa.gov/travel/civil-enforcement.