SANTA BARBARA, California – Officers with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Santa Barbara Municipal Airport (SBA) stopped a male traveler from bringing a loaded firearm onto an aircraft Thursday, June 29. The firearm was discovered during routine X-ray screening of carry-on luggage at the airport’s security checkpoint.

The firearm find occurred around noon at SBA when a TSA officer spotted the image of a handgun on the X-ray screen. TSA notified officers with the Santa Barbara Airport Patrol who responded to the security checkpoint and removed the firearm from the X-ray tunnel. The passenger, who was ticketed for travel to Denver International, was escorted out of the security checkpoint by law enforcement.

The firearm – a loaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson – was in the carry-on bag along with a magazine loaded with 11 rounds of ammunition and an additional magazine with 10 rounds of ammunition located in the carry-on. This is the third firearm discovered in carry-on luggage at SBA so far this year. In all of 2022, TSA officers discovered two firearms at SBA at the security checkpoint.

“At the risk of stating the obvious, travelers should never bring a firearm to the security checkpoint in carry-on luggage. This direction is often ignored as TSA officers continue to discover far too many firearms during security screening operations,” said TSA Federal Security Director at SBA Anita Minaei. “Consider yourself warned: if you bring a firearm to the security checkpoint, it will be an expensive and regrettable mistake.”

TSA will review the circumstances of the firearm incident and levy a civil penalty against the passenger. The recommended civil penalty for a firearm starts at $2,050 and can go up to the statutory maximum of more than $14,950 per violation. TSA evaluates each incident on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to civil penalties, 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. Even if a traveler has a concealed weapons permit, firearms are not permitted in carry-on luggage.

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. 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 should 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.

Travelers are strongly encouraged to review the contents of their carry-on luggage to avoid bringing firearms and other prohibited items. With record air travel passenger volumes predicted for the Fourth of July weekend, it is critical that everyone do their part to keep security operations going smoothly and efficiently. Here are tips to do so:

Pack smart. Ensure that carry-ons do not contain prohibited items since they slow down the security screening process. TSA is reminding all travelers that fireworks don’t fly – in carry-on or checked luggage. Fireworks are never allowed on an aircraft, so please don’t bring them to the airport.

To determine whether an item is allowed or prohibited in carry-on luggage, download the MyTSA app and use the “What Can I Bring?” feature. Another option is to snap a picture of an item and send it to @AskTSA on Twitter or Facebook Messenger for real-time assistance. Travelers can also send a question by texting “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).

Use your time wisely in the security checkpoint queue. Have your photo ID ready. Don’t wait until you approach the TSA officer who is checking IDs to look for it. Empty your pockets prior to arrival in the checkpoint. Place wallets, phones, keys, sunglasses and other loose items from your pockets inside your carry-on bag instead of placing them in a bin. This will ensure personal items are not left behind.

Follow the rule for traveling with liquids. Sunscreen, creams, bug spray and other liquids and aerosols are limited to 3.4 ounces (100 ml) or less in carry-on luggage. If a traveler brings liquids in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces, TSA will have to conduct a bag check, which slows the screening process for that traveler and everyone in line behind them. Any liquids in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces should travel in checked baggage.


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