TSA officers at Dulles Airport stop man with loaded handgun and dagger inside his walking stick at security checkpoint

Second gun caught at the airport within a week
Local Press Release
Friday, August 6, 2021
TSA officers prevented a man from carrying this loaded handgun onto his flight out of Washington Dulles International Airport on August 5. (TSA photo)

DULLES, Va. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) prevented an Atlanta man from bringing a 9mm handgun loaded with 17 bullets onto his flight yesterday, August 5. The man also had an additional bullet in his carry-on bag and a walking stick with a dagger-like sword concealed inside.  

TSA alerted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police who confiscated the gun and dagger and cited the man on weapons charges.

“There is a right way and a wrong way to transport a gun for a flight and the wrong way is to bring it to a TSA security checkpoint,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “For starters, the gun should be unloaded. Then packed in a locked hard-sided case and declared at the airline counter. The airline representative will make sure it gets loaded into the belly of the plane as checked baggage.  The reason for this protocol is for safety. Nobody should have access to a loaded gun during a flight.”

As for the walking stick, individuals who use walking sticks or canes should take an extra moment to twist the handle to see if it unscrews to reveal a sword or dagger inside. “Oftentimes people receive these items as gifts or they purchase them at a yard sale, flea market, garage sale or antique shop and are unaware that there is a weapon concealed inside,” Johnson said. “So we want to remind people to twist and inspect.”

It was the second handgun that TSA officers have detected at one of the airport checkpoints within the last week. They also caught one on July 31.

Bringing weapons 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 knives 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.

IAD dagger photo
TSA officers at Washington Dulles International Airport detected this dagger/sword concealed inside a traveler’s walking stick on Aug. 5. (TSA photo)

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.

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 Washington Dulles International 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.