ARLINGTON, Va. – For the fourth time this month, Transportation Security Administration officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) caught a gun at one of the airport’s checkpoints. All four men who were caught had their guns confiscated by police, who then cited each man on weapons charges.
TSA officers stopped a Fairfax County, Virginia, man with a 9 mm handgun loaded with nine bullets in his carry-on bag Tuesday, Aug. 28. It marked the 10th firearm caught so far this year at the airport. In 2017, TSA officers caught 13 guns at the airport’s checkpoints.
TSA officers immediately contacted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Police, and when they arrived at the checkpoint, they confiscated the firearm and cited the McLean, Virginia, resident on state weapons charges.
Approximately one in 200,000 travelers brought guns to checkpoints nationwide in 2017 (the last time such data was available) and 84 percent of them were loaded. Of the guns caught at checkpoints in 2017, 77 percent were carried by males.
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.