TSA prevents local man from carrying his loaded gun onto a flight at Reagan National Airport

Local Press Release
Monday, November 21, 2022
This gun was detected by a TSA officers in a traveler’s carry-on bag at Reagan National Airport on Sept. 21. (TSA photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) prevented a California resident from carrying his loaded handgun onto a flight on Friday, Nov. 18. It was the 28th gun detected by TSA officers at the airport so far this year.

The .40 caliber handgun was loaded with 14 bullets, including one in the chamber. It was located among the man’s carry-on items. When TSA officers spotted the firearm, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Police were notified, confiscated the weapon and arrested the man.

“We are in the middle of the busiest travel period of the year, and our TSA officers are screening travelers as efficiently as possible. Travelers can help us by maintaining awareness of all the contents of their carry-on bags to ensure that they do not have any prohibited items inside—especially firearms,” said John Busch, TSA Federal Security Director for the airport. “It is a good idea to start with an empty bag when packing, because it’s not always easy to remember what you may have placed in your backpack, messenger bag or handbag two weeks ago. And if you are a gun-owner, please confirm that your firearm is in its secure location before departing from home.”

 Unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither? Download the free myTSA app, which has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that allows travelers to type in the item to find out if it can fly. Or ask on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Firearms Caught at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport checkpoints, 2017 to 2022








(As of 11/20/22)

Guns caught at DCA 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 may 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 2021, about 86 percent were loaded.