Two Virginia men cited by police after TSA stops them from carrying handguns onto their flights at Dulles Airport on Sunday

Local Press Release
Monday, April 25, 2022
A Great Falls, Va., man was caught with this unloaded handgun at a Washington Dulles International Airport security checkpoint on Sunday, April 24. (TSA photo)

DULLES, Va. – Two Virginia residents were cited by police after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) prevented them from carrying their handguns onto their flights on Sunday, April 24.

A Great Falls, Va., man was caught with an unloaded .32 caliber handgun in his carry-on bag and a Leesburg, Va., man was stopped with a 9 mm handgun loaded with 15 bullets in his carry-on bag. In each instance, the travelers claimed they forgot that they were carrying their weapons. The two incidents were not related.   

Each gun was detected as the men entered the security checkpoint. The guns triggered an alarm when the carry-on bags that they were in entered the X-ray unit. TSA officials notified the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police who confiscated the guns and cited the men on a weapons charges.

IAD gun catch 2 photo
A Leesburg, Va., man was caught with this loaded handgun in his carry-on bag at Washington Dulles International Airport on April 24. (TSA photo)

“Responsible gun owners know where their weapons are at all times and they take care to pack them properly for transport on a flight,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Each individual now faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty.”

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.

Firearms Caught at the Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) checkpoints, 2017 to 2022








(As of 4/24/22)

Guns caught at IAD checkpoints







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.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2022, about 86 percent were loaded.