Transportation Security Administration officers at Seattle-Tacoma Airport discovered two loaded guns and 56 rounds of ammunition in three separate instances during routine screening at the security checkpoint Wednesday morning.
TSA officers detected a .380 Sig Sauer loaded with eight rounds in a carry-on bag at 5:20 a.m., according to TSA Northwest Region spokeswoman Lorie Dankers. The passenger was ticketed for travel to San Francisco International Airport.
At 9 a.m. officers found a 9mm Ruger with seven rounds in the carry-on bag of a passenger going to Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
Later that morning, 56 rounds of ammunition were detected in a Spokane-bound passenger’s carry-on bag.
All three men were questioned at the scene and then released on their own recognizance, Sea-Tac spokesman Perry Cooper said. Their items were confiscated. A person with an unauthorized item is still allowed to fly, provided he or she can prove they legally have the right to own the gun and don’t have any outstanding warrants, according to Cooper.
Each case is referred to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, Cooper said. In addition to facing local or state criminal charges, TSA can levy a civil fine of up to $7,500 for bringing a weapon to the checkpoint, according to Dankers. Each penalty is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
TSA agents have found 24 firearms at Sea-Tac’s checkpoints and more than 900 handguns nationwide this year. According to data obtained by the Associated Press, Sea-Tac was one of the 12 airports with the most firearms incidents in 2011 and 2012.
Firearms, ammunition, firearm parts and realistic replicas of firearms are prohibited in carry-on luggage, but they can be transported in checked baggage if the traveler declares them to the airline.
“It’s a good reminder to passengers to be aware of what is in their bag and what is allowed and what’s not,” Dankers said. “You can travel legally with your firearm, it just needs to be in your checked baggage.”