EL PASO, Texas - Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at El Paso International Airport detected three loaded 9 mm handguns in travelers’ carry-on bags during the first five days of August.
On Monday, Aug 3, TSA officers detected a loaded 9mm handgun with eight bullets in the carry-on bag of a passenger. On Tuesday, Aug. 4, TSA officers discovered another 9mm handgun loaded with seven bullets. Finally, on Friday, Aug. 7, TSA officers detected a third 9mm handgun loaded with seven bullets including one in the chamber
In each incident TSA officers detected the firearms as they entered the checkpoint X-ray machine. They immediately alerted the El Paso Police Department, which responded to the
checkpoint, interviewed each traveler, and cited them on Weapons charges. There was no indication the three firearm discoveries were linked.
“Despite an 80% reduction in the number of people screened by TSA compared to this time last year, TSA officers have remained focused during the pandemic. They continue to be vigilant and prevent security threats from making it onboard airplanes,” said Jared Babin TSA’s Federal Security Director for El Paso International Airport. “I’m proud to serve with the team in El Paso. Their commitment to the mission is unwavering.”
So far in 2020, TSA officers at El Paso International Airport have detected nine firearms in carry-on bags. Nationwide, TSA officers have discovered over 1600 firearms to date and 83% of those have been loaded. In 2019, over 4,000 firearms were found in carry-on luggage at airports across the country.
“If a gun is brought to the TSA screening checkpoint, the passenger may face a civil penalty that can exceed $13,000 and that fine is imposed regardless of whether an individual is arrested or cited by our law enforcement partners,” noted Babin. “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 to ensure they have no prohibited items with them.
In addition to civil penalties, individuals who violate rules regarding traveling with firearms will have Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheck™ 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. Then they need to take the case 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.
Ammunition and firearm parts, including firearm frames, receivers, clips and magazines are also prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be checked. Replica firearms also are prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage.
More information on traveling legally with a firearm is available on TSA’s website.
For pictures of the guns visit Twitter handle @https://twitter.com/Tsa_SouthWest