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TSA discovers loaded handgun at Tri-Cities Airport

Courtesy TSA Public Affairs

News Release from Transportation Security Administration

PASCO, Washington — Officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the Tri-Cities Airport (PSC) discovered a loaded firearm in the carry-on luggage of a male traveler ticketed for travel to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport Tuesday morning. This is the fifth firearm discovered in a carry-on bag by TSA at PSC this year.

The firearm, a 9 mm Ruger LC9 firearm, was loaded with six rounds of ammunition. A TSA officer spotted the image of the gun on the x-ray screen at 8:35 a.m. during the routine screening of carry-on luggage.

TSA notified the Port of Pasco Police Department and they responded to the security checkpoint. They interviewed the traveler and confiscated the weapon. The passenger was cited on a state charge. The traveler missed his flight and was allowed to rebook.

TSA will review the circumstances of the incident to determine if the agency can levy a civil penalty against the passenger. The recommended civil penalty for a firearm starts at $4,000 and can go up to the statutory maximum of $13,333 per violation.

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.

Individuals who violate rules regarding traveling with firearms will have Trusted Traveler status and TSA Pre® 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.

In 2018, TSA discovered five firearms in carry-on luggage at PSC. Tuesday’s discovery equaled last year’s annual total. Nationwide in 2019, TSA officers have discovered 2,201 firearms in carry-on luggage. Of that total, 1,916 were loaded with at least one round of ammunition.

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.

At the airport during the check-in process, a passenger needs to 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.

Firearm magazines and ammunition clips – whether loaded or empty – must be securely boxed in a hard-sided case containing the unloaded firearm. Small arms ammunition that does not exceed .75 caliber for a rifle or pistol and shotgun shells of any gauge, may be transported in the same case as the firearm. TSA recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.

Any type of replica firearm is prohibited in carry-on baggage and must be transported in checked luggage. TSA permits rifle scopes to be transported in either carry-on or checked bags.

TSA reminds passengers to be aware of the contents of their carry-on bag prior to coming to the security checkpoint. TSA has multiple resources available to passengers to help them determine whether an item is permitted in carry-on baggage, checked baggage or not at all.

Travelers can use the “Can I Bring?” feature on the TSA mobile app, myTSA, or visit  https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all. Travelers can also Tweet or Message “AskTSA” if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag. Just snap a picture or send a question and get real-time assistance.

Additional traveler information specifically related to the commercial air transport of firearms and ammunition can be found at http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition. More information on TSA’s civil penalties for prohibited items can be found at https://www.tsa.gov/travel/civil-enforcement.

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