TSA officers at Sea-Tac Airport discover three loaded firearms in two days in travelers’ carry-on luggage

Local Press Release
Friday, June 26, 2020

SEATTLE - Officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport have detected three loaded firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage since Thursday during the routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint.

On Thursday around 7 a.m., TSA officers discovered a 9 mm Smith & Wesson M&P Shield loaded with eight rounds of ammunition in the carry-on bag of a male passenger ticketed for travel to the Boise Airport. Four hours later, TSA officers detected another 9 mm Smith & Wesson M&P Shield loaded with six rounds, including one in the chamber, in the carry-on bag of a male passenger headed to San Diego International Airport.

Today around 2 p.m., TSA officers discovered a loaded 9 mm Ruger American pistol loaded with nine rounds of ammunition. This firearm was found in the carry-on bag of a female passenger ticketed for travel to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

In each incident, the Port of Seattle Police Department interviewed the traveler, cited them on a state charge and confiscated the weapon. There is no indication any of the three firearm discoveries are linked. Each traveler was permitted to continue to their flight.

“Despite an 80% reduction in the number of people screened by TSA compared to this time last year, TSA officers have not lost their focus. They remain vigilant and continue to prevent security threats from making it onboard an airplane,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Washington Jeff Holmgren. “Firearms, whether loaded or unloaded, should never be brought to the security checkpoint in carry-on luggage. Bringing your gun to the security checkpoint will cost you time, money and ultimately be very inconvenient for you.”

So far in 2020, TSA officers at Sea-Tac Airport have detected 23 firearms in carry-on luggage with five of those discovered during the month of June. Nationwide, TSA officers have discovered 1,204 firearms to date and 84% of those have been loaded. In 2019, a total of 4,432 firearms were found in carry-on luggage at airports across the country.

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


More information on traveling legally with a firearm is available on TSA’s website.