Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers working at airports in Oregon have recently seen an increase in the number of firearms brought by travelers in their carry-on luggage. Due to this increase, TSA wants to remind travelers of the proper and legal way to transport firearms on a commercial aircraft.
In March 2021, TSA officers (TSOs) in Oregon discovered eight firearms in carry-on luggage. Each of the firearms was discovered during the routine screening of carry-on property at airport security checkpoints.
At Portland International Airport (PDX), TSOs found five firearms in March, all of them loaded with ammunition, in carry-on luggage. At Eugene Mahlon Sweet Field (EUG) in Eugene, TSOs discovered three firearms, two of them loaded, last month at the security checkpoint. In April TSOs have discovered one additional loaded firearm at PDX.
Whenever a TSA officer spots the image of a handgun on the x-ray screen, TSA immediately notifies airport law enforcement, which responds to the security checkpoint and resolves the matter. In addition to potential criminal citations, travelers face civil penalties for bringing firearms to the security checkpoint and TSA evaluates each firearm incident on a case-by-case basis. There is no indication the incidents among airports are linked.
“With travel volumes recovering and more people being screened by TSA, we have unfortunately seen a recent increase in the number of firearms brought to the security checkpoint. We are asking all gun owners to take a few minutes and refresh the procedures for traveling with firearms and the importance of being aware of everything your transport in your carry-on luggage,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Oregon Stephen Taber. “Even if a traveler has a concealed weapons permit, firearms are never permitted in carry-on luggage. TSA officers will continue to screen for weapons and other potential security threats to ensure those item do not make it into the cabin of an aircraft.”
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. 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 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. TSA also recommends travelers check with their airline prior to their flight to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.
Among the factors TSA considers when determining the civil penalty amount include whether the firearm was loaded and whether there was accessible ammunition.
Individuals who violate rules regarding traveling with firearms will have 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.
TSA has additional traveler information specifically related to the transportation of firearms and ammunition. A full summary of TSA’s civil penalties for prohibited items is also available.
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.