ARLINGTON, Va. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) prevented two Florida men from bringing their guns onto their flights within the last few days. The incidents were not related.
On Tuesday, Dec. 28, a man was carrying an unloaded .40 caliber handgun along with 116 bullets in his carry-on bag. Four days later, on Saturday, Jan. 1, another man was caught with a .40 caliber handgun loaded with six bullets at one of the airport checkpoints.
When the guns were spotted in the X-ray machines, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police were alerted. The police confiscated the guns and ammunition and cited each man.
“On behalf of the dedicated TSA officers of DCA ensuring all passengers are safe flying from Reagan Airport, I want to be crystal clear,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “You cannot bring a gun onto a flight—not loaded or unloaded, not locked, not even if you have a concealed carry permit. Our TSA officers are focused on security and I can assure you that they are good at preventing weapons from getting through our checkpoints. Individuals who are caught with a weapon at the checkpoint face a stiff federal financial penalty. I hope they use this as an opportunity to remind their friends not to make the same mistake that they did.”
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only 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.
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.