TSA officers prevent airline employee from bringing loaded gun onto flight at Reagan National Airport

Man cited by police
Local Press Release
Monday, August 14, 2023
This loaded handgun inside an airline employee’s carry-on bag was detected by TSA officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Aug. 11. (TSA photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. – An airline employee was cited by police after he was stopped by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers with a loaded handgun at one of the checkpoints at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Friday, Aug. 11. The 9mm handgun was loaded with 16 bullets, including one in the chamber.

The gun was caught as the man, who was planning to fly to Chicago, entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted the TSA officer to check the carry-on bag, which was opened by police for a closer inspection. Police confiscated the gun and cited the man on state charges.

Guns are not permitted through the security checkpoint and now the man faces a stiff financial civil penalty from TSA. The penalty for carrying weapons can reach a maximum of $15,000.

“Our officers are focused on ensuring that travelers do not bring firearms and other weapons through our security checkpoints,” said John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “I’m grateful that our officers here and nationwide remain vigilant during this busy travel season. Firearms should never be brought to the security checkpoint in carry-on luggage and airline employees should certainly be aware of that.”

Passengers are only permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage.  Firearms must be unloaded then packed in a hard-sided locked case.  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.

TSA firearms caught at TSA checkpoints at Reagan National Airport, 2018 to 2023








(As of 8/13/23)

Guns caught at the Reagan National Airport checkpoints







Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and gun owners have a duty to ensure they are not violating any local firearm laws. Additionally, contacting the respective airline could reveal any additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

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 gun 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 a concealed carry permit does not allow 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.

During the first six months of the year, TSA officers have detected more than 3,000 guns at checkpoints. Last year, 6,542 firearms were caught at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide. Eighty-eight percent of those guns were loaded.

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 you to type in the item to find out if it can fly. Or ask on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA. Travelers may send a question by texting “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).