TSA officers at Reagan National Airport catch seventh gun in nine days

Baltimore man the latest to be caught at the checkpoint
Local Press Release
Monday, July 19, 2021
TSA officers at DCA detected this loaded handgun in a Baltimore man’s carry-on bag on July 17. (TSA photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) prevented a Baltimore, Maryland, man from bringing a .40 caliber handgun loaded with 13 bullets, including one in the chamber, onto his flight on Saturday, July 17. It was the 19th gun caught at the checkpoint so far this year and the seventh caught within a nine-day period.   

“There seems to be no cure for this rash of guns that are turning up at our checkpoints here at Reagan National Airport. The real solution is in the hands of the travelers,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA Federal Security Director for Reagan National Airport. “Individuals who continue to bring their firearms to our checkpoints will continue to face criminal penalties and federal civil penalties that will prove to be extremely costly, and they’ll have nobody to blame other than themselves. If you want to travel with your gun, pack it the right way or leave it at home. Our TSA officers are good at their jobs and they have continued to stay focused on their mission throughout this pandemic.”

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 locked case, 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.

TSA officers at the airport have caught seven guns within a nine-day period. One was caught on July 16; three were detected on July 14 and one each on July 8 and 11. Each traveler had their weapons confiscated, were cited by the police and now face federal financial civil penalties.

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.

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.