Loaded gun found in Medford airport luggage
The Transportation Security Administration wants travelers to be mindful of firearms laws on commercial aircraft after Oregon agents flagged six loaded handguns in the span of a week and a half — including a loaded pistol at the Medford airport.
At about 5 p.m. June 30, TSA officers at the Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport flagged carry-on luggage belonging to a man with a ticket to Las Vegas and called Medford police, according to TSA spokesperson Lorie Dankers.
Police found a loaded SIG Sauer P245 handgun, two magazines and 11 rounds in the man’s carry-on luggage.
The firearm was one of six loaded guns flagged at Oregon airport checkpoints between June 28 and Monday, according to Dankers.
“This is kind of an extraordinary event to find six firearms in 10 days,” Dankers said.
Portland International Airport TSA agents discovered loaded firearms at 11 p.m. June 28, 9 p.m. July 1, 12:45 p.m. July 4 and 8:30 a.m. July 5.
Eight guns have been found at by TSA officers in carry-on luggage at the Medford airport this year, according to Dankers. In all of 2020, TSA agents in Medford flagged five firearms, and in all of 2019 Oregon agents found 14 firearms. (Corrected)
“At this rate we’ll exceed the 2019 number,” she said.
TSA never handles the guns. When something resembling a gun is located during screening, agents are trained to alert their supervisor and halt all further checks until a local police officer can handle the flagged piece of luggage and remove the gun from the checkpoint.
“They immediately stop all screening,” Dankers said.
It’s at local law enforcement’s discretion to determine whether a crime was committed, according to Dankers.
The Medford airport incident did not result in any arrests or citations because the traveler had a concealed handgun license, according to Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau.
The travelers who tried to bring loaded guns in their carry-on luggage each face steep civil fines from the TSA, according to Dankers. The recommended fine starts at $2,050 and the maximum fine is more than $10,000.
“That’s an expensive mistake,” she said.
Travelers who violate firearms rules also risk a suspension of their TSA Trusted Traveler status or TSA PreCheck benefits.
There are ways to transport a firearm legally on commercial aircraft.
Specific instructions for how to transport firearms and ammunition are available at tsa.gov/travel/transporting-firearms-and-ammunition, but unloaded weapons stored in a locked hard-sided cases are allowed in checked baggage if the traveler signs a declaration form at the ticket counter.
Replicas are also allowed in checked baggage — not in carry-ons — and Dankers recommends that passengers check gun laws and regulations at their destination, as well as checking with their airline to ensure they comply with any airline-specific requirements.
“It’s so straightforward, it’s a wonder why this continues to happen,” Dankers said.
Dankers urges travelers not to bring real guns or replicas in their carry-ons — even if they have a concealed handgun license.
“Don’t bring ‘em,” she said. “You’re slowing down the whole process for everyone.”
Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the numbers of firearms found by TSA officers at the Medford airport as the number found in all Oregon airports. TSA officers found eight guns in carry-on luggage at the Medford airport this year, five guns in Medford last year and 14 guns in 2019.