TSA officers at Dulles Airport stop man with loaded handgun at security checkpoint

Gun caught just days before 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks
Local Press Release
Friday, September 10, 2021
TSA officers prevented a man from carrying this loaded handgun onto his flight out of Washington Dulles International Airport on September 9. (TSA photo)

DULLES, Va. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) stopped a man from bringing a 9mm handgun loaded with nine bullets onto his flight yesterday, September 9, just two days before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the nation.    

TSA alerted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police who confiscated the gun and cited the man, a resident of Alabama, on weapons charges. He also faces a stiff federal financial penalty for carrying a gun to a TSA checkpoint.

“Twenty years ago American Airlines Flight 77 departed this very airport and was overtaken by terrorists who crashed the plane into the Pentagon,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “At this point in time, travelers should know by now that weapons are not permitted to be carried onto flights—not guns, not knives, not martial arts weapons, none of them. Our officers are good at their jobs and are dedicated to the mission of ensuring the safety and security of the traveling public.”

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.

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.