TSA officers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport discover three loaded firearms in one day in travelers’ carry-on luggage

Local Press Release
Friday, October 9, 2020

PHOENIX, Arizona - Officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) detected three firearms in travelers’ carry-on luggage in one day during X-ray screening of carry-on luggage at the security checkpoints.

On Thursday, Oct. 8, TSA officers discovered a loaded 9 mm caliber firearm (one chambered) with 11 rounds of ammunition in the carry-on bag of a male passenger. On the same day, TSA officers discovered a loaded 9 mm caliber gun with 16 rounds, in the bag of a male passenger. A third gun, a loaded 9 mm firearm with eight rounds of ammunition, was discovered in the carry-on bag of a male passenger.

There is no evidence that the incidents are linked.

So far in 2020, TSA officers at PHX Airport have detected 92 firearms in carry-on luggage. Nationwide, TSA officers have discovered over 2,300 firearms to date and 82% 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 TSA Federal Security Director for Arizona Jerry Agnew. “Certainly during a global pandemic, travelers are facing stress. But, please know where your gun is at all times and before you head to the airport, make sure you don’t bring it to the security checkpoint.”

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 their 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. 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 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.

For pictures of the guns to https://twitter.com/Tsa_SouthWest. (Move the following sentence into this paragraph.)

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

In addition to this important reminder about traveling with firearms, here are some additional travel tips:

Separate food for X-ray screening. Passengers should place their carry-on food items into a clear plastic bag and place that bag into a bin. Food items often trigger an alarm during the screening process. Separating the food from the carry-on bag lessens the likelihood that a TSA officer will need to open the carry-on bag and remove the food items for a closer inspection. This requirement allows social distancing, reduces the TSA officer’s need to touch a person’s container of food and reduces potential for cross-contamination. TSA PreCheckTM members do not need to remove food from their bags.

Remember 3-1-1. Liquids, gels and aerosols should be 3.4 ounces or less in carry-on bags. Due to COVID-19, TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags. Passengers are required to remove the hand sanitizer from their carry-on bag before submitting it  for X-ray screening.

Maintain social distancing. Passengers should maintain social distance from other travelers throughout their screening process. This includes areas in the security checkpoint queue and while collecting items from bins and after completing screening. .

Consider using this paragraph for facial protection –

TSA strongly recommends all travelers wear a face covering throughout the entire travel experience. Travelers may be asked to adjust their mask for ID verification or if it alarms during the security screening process. If a traveler does not have a mask and they require a pat-down, a TSA officer will provide a mask. Since mid-June, the public has been required to wear face coverings in all public areas at PHX.

Skip the bins. Travelers are encouraged to remove items such as belts and items from their pockets, like wallets, keys and phones, and put them directly into their carry-on bags instead of into the bins to reduce touch-points during the screening process.