TSA officers at SLC discover seven handguns in passengers’ carry-on luggage over past seven days

Local Press Release
Wednesday, October 9, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY - Officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) have discovered seven firearms in the carry-on luggage of seven different travelers in the past seven days.

The latest firearm discovery occurred today around 7:40 a.m. when a TSA officer spotted the image of a gun on the X-ray screen in the bag of a male passenger ticketed for travel to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The gun was a loaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson pistol with an additional magazine and 15 rounds of ammunition.

Other firearm discoveries in the past week include one on Thursday, Oct. 3 around 7:15 p.m. when a male passenger headed to Oakland International Airport had a loaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson M&P Shield gun in his carry-on bag and eight rounds of ammunition. On Friday, Oct. 4 at 2:30 p.m., a loaded .380 caliber Kel-Tec firearm and five rounds of ammunition were discovered in the bag of a male passenger traveling to San Diego International Airport (SAN). 

Over the weekend, on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 5:15 a.m., SLC TSA officers discovered a loaded 9 mm FN Herstal FNS-9 gun and 17 rounds of ammunition in a carry-on bag of a male traveler going to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. A day later, on Sunday, Oct. 6, a female traveler ticketed for travel to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport had a loaded .22 caliber North American Arms firearm and five rounds of ammunition in her carry-on luggage.

On Monday, Oct. 7 around 7:50 a.m., TSA officers discovered a loaded .380 caliber Ruger LCP firearm and six rounds of ammunition in a female traveler’s carry-on bag on her way to SAN. On Tuesday, Oct. 8, TSA officers discovered an unloaded .22 caliber Ruger Sturm firearm at around 7:55 a.m. in carry-on luggage of a male passenger ticketed for travel to John F. Kennedy International Airport. In addition to the firearm, there were 97 rounds of .22 caliber ammunition in the bag.

In every instance, these firearms were discovered by TSA officers during the routine screening of carry-on property at the TSA security checkpoint. Once the image of the firearm appeared on the X-ray screen, TSA notified the Salt Lake City Police Airport Bureau and they responded to the security checkpoint, taking custody of the firearm and interviewing the travelers. There is no indication that these seven incidents are related or pose a threat to the traveling public’s safety.

“This string of firearm discoveries should serve as a reminder to all travelers - especially gun owners - to double-check their belongings before they come to the airport to catch a flight to ensure there is nothing dangerous or prohibited in their carry-on luggage,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Utah Mark Lewis. “There is no excuse for bringing a firearm to the security checkpoint when there is an established and accepted procedure for packing a firearm for travel in checked luggage.”

TSA will review the circumstances of each incident and levy a civil penalty against the passengers. The recommended civil penalty for a firearm starts at $2,050 and can go up to a maximum of $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.

These seven firearms bring the total number of firearms discovered by TSA at SLC in 2019 to 65. In all of 2018, TSA officers at SLC discovered 73 firearms in carry-on luggage. Nationwide, TSA officers have discovered more than 3,300 firearms in carry-on luggage so far this year.