TSA at Reagan National Airport prevents local man from carrying loaded gun onto flight

Local Press Release
Friday, July 9, 2021
The TSA team at DCA caught this loaded handgun at one of the checkpoints on July 8. (TSA photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) prevented an Oxon Hill, Maryland, man from bringing a .40 caliber handgun loaded with six bullets onto his flight yesterday, Thursday, July 8.

The man was cited by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police, who confiscated the weapon. In addition, the man faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty for bringing a gun to an airport security checkpoint.

“Bringing a loaded gun to a checkpoint is a costly mistake,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA Federal Security Director for the airport. “Not only was this individual cited by police, but he now faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty. The thing is, this didn’t have to happen had he only packed his firearm the proper way to transport it onto his flight. For starters, under no circumstances should you bring a gun to a checkpoint.”

Yesterday marked the 13th handgun stopped by TSA officers at DCA so far this year, just one shy of the 14 caught during all 12 months of 2019, prior to the pandemic when significantly more people were flying.

“It’s only early July and to see this many people with guns in their carry-on bags when significantly fewer people are traveling out of this airport is inexcusable,” Johnson added. “We’re happy to make sure your firearm gets to your destination as long as it is transported properly and in the safest manner possible.”

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Then the locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Firearms Caught at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport checkpoints, 2017 to 2021







Guns caught






*Significantly fewer passengers than previous year due to the pandemic.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019 due to the pandemic. The result was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019.  Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.