firearm security checkpoint TSA

PASCO, WA - The Tri-Cities Airport wants to remind passengers about the proper procedure for traveling with firearms after 9 loaded guns were brought to the Spokane Airport security checkpoint over the span of a month. (TSA sees surge of passengers trying to bring loaded guns in carry-on baggage through security checkpoints at Spokane International Airport)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which maintains the safety and security of travelers within the airport, has strict but clear rules on how to fly with a weapon.

How to Travel Safely with a Firearm

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.

Please note that 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.

Consequences of Improper Travel

If a passenger brings a firearm to the TSA security checkpoint, TSA notifies airport law enforcement and the passenger faces arrest and criminal charges permitted under Washington state law. TSA also reviews 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 $2,000 and can go up to the statutory maximum of $13,333 per violation. TSA evaluates each incident on a case-by-case basis.

Individuals who violate rules regarding traveling with firearms will have their 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.

Additional Resources

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 Travelers can also reach out to TSA on social media 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


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