TSA officers at Sea-Tac Airport discover two firearms within five minutes in travelers’ carry-on luggage

Local Press Release
Friday, September 4, 2020

SEATTLE - Officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport detected two firearms Friday morning during the routine X-ray screening of carry-on luggage at the security checkpoint.

The first firearm discovery occurred around 6:15 a.m. when TSA officers found a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun loaded with 14 rounds ammunition in the carry-on bag of a traveler ticketed for travel to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. About five minutes later, an unloaded 9 mm Ruger was detected in the carry-on bag of a traveler headed to Ketchikan International Airport.

Upon discovery of each firearm, TSA notified the Port of Seattle Police Department, which responded to the security checkpoint. The travelers were interviewed and cited on state charges, the weapons were confiscated and the travelers were permitted to continue to their flights. There is no indication the two incidents are linked.

This morning’s firearm finds at Sea-Tac Airport bring the annual total to 34. During the month of August, TSA locally discovered eight firearms in carry-on luggage. TSA officers at airports security checkpoints nationwide have discovered more than 1,930 firearms in 2020. In all of 2019, a total of 4,432 firearms were found in carry-on luggage nationwide.

“As we head into the Labor Day holiday weekend, let the discovery of these two guns serve as a reminder that TSA officers remain vigilant and focused on their mission to keep security threats off commercial aircraft,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Washington Jeff Holmgren. “If you are planning on traveling with a firearm, avoid making this same mistake, which is inconvenient and expensive.”

TSA will review the circumstances of the incidents 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 $13,669 per violation. 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 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.

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.

Stun guns and other electro-shock weapons are never allowed in carry-on luggage. In addition, they must be transported in checked baggage in such a manner that the device is inoperable from accidental discharge.

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