Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) discovered two firearms Friday morning during routine screening of departing travelers’ carry-on luggage. These are the fourth and fifth firearm discoveries at airport checkpoints this week.
Today at 5:30 a.m., TSA officers discovered a loaded M&P Shield 99 mm pistol in the carry-on bag of a traveler. At 9 a.m., TSA officers discovered a loaded Glock 42 .380 caliber handgun in a different traveler’s carry-on bag.
Thursday at 12:40 p.m., TSA officers found a loaded Taurus GX4 9mm handgun in a traveler’s carry-on. On Tuesday, two additional loaded guns were discovered, bringing the weekly total to five. There is no indication that any of the incidents are related.
After each firearm discovery, TSA notified the Port of Seattle Police Department who then removed the firearm and the traveler from the security checkpoint.
Each traveler now faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty. Federal penalties for bringing weapons to the checkpoint can run as high as $14,950, depending on the circumstances. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online.
“It is disappointing that travelers continue to ignore the rules for traveling with firearms on a plane. I can’t state this more clearly: stop bringing firearms to the security checkpoint in carry-on luggage,” said TSA’s Federal Security Director for Washington Greg Hawko. “The simplest way to avoid bringing a firearm to the airport is to ensure that you unpack your travel bag completely before you pack it for your airline trip. That will ensure you know the contents of your bag prior to departing home. If you follow this advice, it will save you contact with law enforcement and having to pay a civil penalty to the government.”
In addition to these five firearms, TSA officers have detected two realistic replica guns this week. The first was discovered Thursday afternoon and another, a paintball gun, was found Wednesday. These finds should serve as a reminder that guns – whether real or replicas – cannot travel in carry-on luggage.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage only if they are unloaded and packed in a hard-sided, locked case. The locked case should be placed in a checked bag and declared to the airline at the ticket counter. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.
Firearms are not permitted through a security checkpoint because passengers should not have access to a firearm during a flight. This even applies to travelers with concealed carry permits or are enrolled in the TSA PreCheck® program, who will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges if they bring a gun to a checkpoint.
Earlier this week, TSA announced that during the first nine months of this year, TSA officers have intercepted 5,072 firearms at airport security checkpoints. At the current rate, the agency will surpass last year’s record of 6,542 firearms nationwide.
TSA at SEA has discovered 95 firearms so far this year, and 90% of those have been loaded. At this same point last year, TSA had detected 92 firearms.