ARLINGTON, Va. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport prevented an Ashburn, Va., man from carrying a loaded handgun onto his flight yesterday, Thursday, Dec. 7. The 9mm handgun was loaded with 13 bullets.
It was the 34th gun that TSA officers at the airport have detected at one of the checkpoints so far this year, which is the most guns caught in a single year and follows a national trend in seeing a spike in the number of travelers who are bringing guns to airport checkpoints across the country.
The gun was caught as the man entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted the TSA to take a closer look inside the carry-on bag. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police confiscated the gun and cited the man on a weapons charge. He told officials that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him.
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.
“There is no excuse for bringing a gun to the checkpoint,” said John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “It is disappointing to continue to see so very many travelers continuing to bring their firearms to checkpoints. It’s careless to do so. Responsible gun owners know where their guns are at all times. This man now faces a Federal civil penalty that could cost him thousands of dollars.”
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 12/7/23)
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 airport security checkpoints nationwide. So far this year more than 6,000 handguns have been stopped at security checkpoints by TSA officers across the country, which is on track to set a new annual record.
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).