TSA officers prevent Virginia man from bringing loaded gun onto flight at Reagan National Airport

Man, who was cited by police, blamed his wife
Local Press Release
Friday, September 22, 2023
This loaded handgun was packed inside a man’s carry-on bag and was detected by TSA officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Sept. 21. (TSA photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. – A King George, Va., man 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 Thursday, Sept. 21. The .22 caliber pistol was loaded with five bullets and was packed in the man’s carry-on bag.

The gun was caught as the man entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted the TSA to take a closer look and inspect the carry-on bag, which was opened by police for a closer inspection. Police confiscated the gun and cited the man on state charges. The man blamed his wife and told officials that she packed his carry-on bag and did not know that he already had his loaded gun inside.

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.

“It is disappointing to continue to see travelers carrying their loaded guns to our security checkpoints,” said John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “My advice is that when packing for a flight to start with a completely empty bag, and all travelers must pack their own bag, so that there are no surprises when someone gets to our checkpoint.

“When you start with an empty bag, there are no chances that a prohibited or illegal item is inside and incidents like the one that happened on Thursday don’t happen again,” Busch said. “I find it very troubling that this is the sixth firearm TSA has intercepted at Reagan National Airport in just the last three weeks. There is no reasonable excuse for not knowing you are carrying an unsecured, loaded firearm in your bag. It presents a danger to everyone around you. I urge all responsible gun owners to maintain awareness of where their firearms are stored.”

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 9/21/23)

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.

Last year, 6,542 firearms were caught at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide. Eighty-eight percent of those guns were loaded. So far this year more than 4,000 handguns have been stopped at security checkpoints by TSA officers.

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).