AUSTIN - Officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport have detected three firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in the first two days of this week, during X-ray screening of traveler belongings at the security checkpoints.
On Monday at around 6:30 a.m., TSA officers discovered a Rossi .38 Special loaded with five rounds (one chambered) of ammunition and a box of 44 rounds, in the carry-on bag of a male passenger. On Tuesday at around 2:30 p.m., TSA officers discovered two unloaded guns, a Glock .40 caliber and SCCY CPX 9MM, with two unloaded magazines. These firearms were found in the carry-on bag of a male passenger.
In each incident, Austin Police Department officers assist TSA officers with traveler interview, license to carry verifications, and disposition of weapon. Each traveler was arrested as neither had a license to carry.
“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 (FSD) Michael Scott for Austin-Bergstrom Airport. “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 Austin-Bergstrom Airport have detected 23 firearms in carry-on luggage. 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.
“If a gun is brought to the TSA screening checkpoint, the passenger will face a civil penalty that can exceed $13,000 and that fine is imposed even if you are not arrested or cited by our law enforcement partners,” noted FSD Scott. “In order to maintain social distancing and not have to face a bag search, passengers are reminded to know precisely what is in their bags before leaving for the airport.”
TSA will review the circumstances of the incident and levy a civil penalty against each of the passengers. 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.