Four guns have been found at airport security checkpoints since Wednesday, all in unrelated incidents. Three of them were loaded, according to the TSA.
▪ On Wednesday, TSA officers at the Boise Airport found a loaded Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380 in the luggage of a passenger headed to California.
▪ Idaho Falls screeners spotted a loaded Ruger 9mm pistol Saturday in the bag of someone headed to Salt Lake City.
▪ Back in Boise, an unloaded .22-caliber North American Arms Magnum showed up Sunday in the carry-on of a passenger on their way to Seattle.
▪ And just five hours later on Sunday, Boise screeners found another handgun — a Ruger .380 semiautomatic, loaded, in the bag of someone headed to Las Vegas.
Federal regulations require firearms, ammunition, replica guns and gun parts to all be stowed in checked baggage, not carry-on. They also must all be declared to airline officials when passengers check in.
Firearms in checked baggage have to be unloaded and stored in a locked, hard-sided container. Individual airlines may have their own specific policies, so it’s important to check what your airline requires as well.
By volume, these incidents are rare. TSA found 16 guns in carry-on bags at the Boise Airport in 2016; that same year, 3.2 million passengers traveled through the airport. And in many cases, authorities have said, gun owners simply forget to remove their firearms before leaving home.
But failing to follow the rules can still bring a civil penalty of up to $7,500 from the TSA, as well as possible local criminal charges.
Civil penalties will be assessed in all four recent Idaho cases, a TSA spokeswoman said. The exact amounts will be determined by the agency’s attorneys.
Police chose not to cite the Idaho Falls passenger. The three Boise cases were referred to the Boise City Prosecutor’s Office for consideration.
All four passengers were allowed to continue their travels, but without their guns, after interviews with police.
How can you know if an item is permitted in your luggage? Visit this TSA page on prohibited items, download the myTSA app for iOS or Android, or if you’re on your phone use this mobile-formatted website.