DULLES, Va. – A Prince William County, Virginia, man was caught with a 9 mm handgun loaded with eight bullets, including one in the chamber, along with a magazine loaded with eight additional bullets at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) yesterday, November 24, after a Transportation Security Administration officer spotted the items in the man’s carry-on bag.
The TSA officer who was staffing the security checkpoint spotted the handgun when it appeared on the X-ray monitor. TSA immediately contacted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Police, who confiscated the handgun and ammunition, and detained the man, a resident of Bristow, Virginia, for questioning. He was permitted to catch his flight—without his gun.
It marked the 17th handgun that TSA officers have detected at the airport’s checkpoints so far this year, tying the number of firearms that were caught at the airport last year.
In total, 4,239 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country last year, averaging about 11.6 firearms per day, approximately a 7% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 3,957 detected in 2017. Eighty-six percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded and nearly 34% had a bullet in the chamber.
Travelers who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA. Even if a traveler has a concealed weapon permit, firearms are not permitted to be carried onto an airplane in their carry-on bags.
However, passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packed 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. If you’re a TSA Pre✓® member, then you could even lose your status. In addition, TSA has the authority to assess civil penalties of up to $13,333 for weapons violations. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.