TSA discovers loaded firearms at Minot and Bismarck airports in the past week

Local Press Release
Thursday, September 12, 2019

BISMARCK, North Dakota – In the past week, officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have discovered two loaded firearms in the carry-on luggage of travelers departing two North Dakota airports during routine screening in the security checkpoint.

The first firearm, a 9 mm Ruger firearm loaded with six rounds of ammunition, was discovered at Minot International Airport (MOT) on Friday, Sept. 6 at approximately 2:30 p.m. The passenger was ticketed for travel to Denver International Airport.

BIS Firearm
The second firearm, a Smith & Wesson M+P Body Guard loaded with five rounds of ammunition plus one in the chamber, was discovered at Bismarck Airport (BIS) on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at approximately 4:45 a.m. There was a second magazine with six rounds of ammunition in the carry-on bag as well as an additional single round of ammunition. The passenger was ticketed for travel to Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

In both cases, when the TSA officer saw the image of the firearm on the x-ray screen, airport law enforcement was notified and responded to the security checkpoint. The travelers were interviewed and the weapons were retained by law enforcement. The travelers were allowed to continue on their flights.

TSA has discovered four firearms in carry-on luggage at BIS so far this year. TSA has discovered two firearms at MOT this year. Nationwide in 2019, TSA officers have discovered more than 2,900 firearms in carry-on luggage.

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 $4,100 and can go up to the statutory maximum of more than $10,250 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.

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.