DULLES, Va. – A Transportation Security Administration officer stopped a Fairfax County, Virginia, man from bringing two loaded semi-automatic handguns onto an airplane at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) Saturday, Sept. 1.
The TSA officer spotted the handguns in the man’s carry-on bag at one of the airport checkpoints when they appeared on the X-ray monitor.
A .40 caliber handgun that was loaded with 13 bullets and a .38 caliber handgun that was loaded with six bullets were pulled from the bag. Typically, more than 80 percent of handguns that TSA officers catch at checkpoints nationwide are loaded.
TSA officers immediately contacted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Police, and when they arrived at the checkpoint, they confiscated the firearms and cited the man, a resident of Reston, Virginia, on state weapons charges. The man claimed that he forgot that he was carrying two loaded handguns with him. Last year, 77 percent of firearms detected at checkpoints belonged to men. (That is the most recent statistic available.)
The two guns marked the 13th and 14th guns caught at a Dulles checkpoint by TSA officers so far this calendar year. Last year TSA officers caught 19 guns at the airport’s checkpoints. At nearby Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), TSA officers have detected 10 handguns at the checkpoints this year. In 2017, 13 guns were detected at DCA checkpoints. Nationwide, an average of one in 200,000 passengers bring a gun to an airport 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. Each weapon counts as one offense. Even travelers who have a firearm permit are not allowed to bring their guns past checkpoints. 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.