Officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) found two loaded firearms in a traveler’s carry-on backpack Friday morning during routine screening at the airport’s security checkpoints.
Both firearms were discovered around 10:15 a.m. in the bag of a male traveler ticketed for travel to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu.
Upon discovery of the firearms, TSA notified officers with the Port of Seattle Police Department (POSPD) who responded to the security checkpoint. A law enforcement officer removed the firearms from the X-ray tunnel and made contact with the traveler. What happened next to the firearm and the traveler was up to the discretion of POSPD.
“The discovery of these two firearms in a single carry-on is a stark reminder why every bag that enters the sterile area of an airport and flies in the cabin of an aircraft must be screened for potential security threats,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Washington Greg Hawko. “I am personally grateful for the TSA officers who conduct security screening of one bag, one passenger at a time, Furthermore, I ask that if you are traveling with a firearm, please take a few moments before you come to the airport to refresh your memory on the proper policies and procedures on how to pack your gun.”
So far in 2023, TSA officers at SEA Airport have detected 76 firearms in carry-on luggage at the security checkpoint. So far this month, TSA officers at the airport have found eight firearms during routine screening of carry-on bags.
Also last week, on August 15, a Rensselaer County N.Y., resident was caught with a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag by TSA officers at Albany International Airport. The 9mm gun was loaded with five bullets. When the TSA officer spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office was alerted, came to the checkpoint and confiscated the weapon from the traveler, a resident of Johnsonville, N.Y. The man had a state gun permit, however he now faces a stiff federal financial penalty for bringing his gun to the airport.
The same day, an Oneida County, N.Y., man was prevented from bringing his loaded handgun onto his flight when TSA officers at Syracuse Hancock International Airport detected a loaded handgun in the man’s carry-on bag. The .380 caliber handgun was loaded with seven bullets, including one in the chamber. When the TSA officer spotted the handgun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Syracuse Regional Airport Authority Police were immediately notified and they responded to the checkpoint and confiscated the weapon. The man, a resident of Clinton, N.Y., had a state gun permit, however he too now faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty.
Nationwide, TSA officers have discovered more than 4,200 firearms to date in 2023 and 92% of those have been loaded. In 2022, a total of 6,542 firearms were found in carry-on luggage at airports across the country and 89% of those were loaded. Federal penalties can reach as high as $15,000 for bringing a weapon to an airport checkpoint, depending on the circumstances.