ARLINGTON, Va. – For the third time within a short nine-day period, Transportation Security Administration officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) caught a gun at one of the airport’s checkpoints. All three men who were caught had their guns confiscated by police, who cited each man on weapons charges.
TSA officers stopped an Oklahoma man Wednesday, August 15, with a .40 caliber handgun loaded with 12 bullets in his carry-on bag. He told TSA officials that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him and claimed that he meant to leave it sitting in his car prior to his flight.
This only five days after a resident of Fairfax, Virginia, was caught at the checkpoint with a 9 mm handgun loaded with six bullets August 10 and nine days after a Springfield, Virginia, man was caught with a .45 caliber handgun loaded with four bullets at the airport August 6. In each instance, the TSA officer who was staffing the checkpoint X-ray monitor spotted the handguns when they appeared on the X-ray screen.
Wednesday’s gun catch marked the ninth caught so far this year at the airport. In 2017, TSA officers caught 13 guns at the airport’s checkpoints.
In each instance, TSA officers immediately contacted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Police, and when they arrived at the checkpoints, they confiscated the firearms and cited the men on state weapons charges. The incidents were not related.
This summer is turning out to be one of the busiest in TSA’s history and when someone brings a firearm to a checkpoint, it closes the checkpoint lane until the situation can be resolved, thus forcing the other travelers to shift into another lane and delaying their passage through the checkpoint.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. This includes travelers with gun permits. A permit to carry a firearm does not allow for it to be brought onto an aircraft.
TSA has the authority to access civil penalties of up to $13,000 for travelers who bring weapons to airports. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
TSA’s website has details on how to properly travel with a firearm. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.