MIDLAND, Texas - Officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Midland International Air & Space Port detected two firearms today, during X-ray screening of traveler and airport employee belongings at the security checkpoints.
On Monday, Aug. 31, TSA officers discovered a Smith & Wesson SD40 VE semi-automatic pistol, in the carry-on bag of a male passenger. Later the same day, TSA officers discovered a second gun, a High Point C9 semi-automatic 9mm Luger pistol in the bag of a non-passenger airport employee. There is no evidence that the incidents are linked. Both can face civil fines and penalties of over $4,000 for a first offense.
“TSA officers remain vigilant in their role of securing airline safety and work to prevent security threats from boarding an airplane. Firearms, whether loaded or unloaded, are prohibited items and should never be brought to the security checkpoint in carry-on luggage,” said TSA Assistant Federal Security Director Jeff McCutchen for Midland International Air & Space Port. Travelers are allowed to travel with their guns, but the firearms must be packed and declared in checked in luggage, secured in a locked, hardback case, and unloaded.
So far in 2020, TSA officers at Midland International Air & Space Port have detected 12 firearms in carry-on bags. Nationwide, TSA officers have discovered over 1,800 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 may face a civil penalty that can exceed $4,000 for a first offence and the fine is imposed even if you are not arrested or cited by our law enforcement partners,” noted AFSD McCutchen. “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 may levy a civil penalty against the offending passenger. Factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty include whether the firearm was loaded and was the ammunition accessible. 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 their Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreChecktm 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. Only the passenger should retain the key or combination to the lock unless TSA personnel request the key to open the firearm container to ensure compliance with TSA regulations.
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.