ARLINGTON, Va. – Transportation Security Administration officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) stopped a local woman with a loaded handgun at one of the airport checkpoints on Tuesday, Oct. 16th , marking the 13th handgun caught so far this year, tying the number of guns caught at the airport in all 12 months of 2017.
TSA officers caught the Arlington, Virginia, resident with a 9 mm handgun loaded with 14 bullets including one in the chamber, in her carry-on bag.
TSA officers immediately contacted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police, and when they arrived at the checkpoint, they confiscated the firearm and detained the woman for questioning prior to citing her on weapons charges.
When an individual 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.
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, 23 percent were carried by women.
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.
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.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its web site. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.