Man cited by police after TSA intercepts loaded gun at Reagan National Airport

Local Press Release
Monday, July 1, 2024
TSA officers at Reagan National Airport intercepted this loaded firearm at a security checkpoint on June 28. (TSA photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. – An Indiana man was cited by police after Transportation Security Administration officers intercepted a loaded firearm and switchblade among the man’s carry-on items at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport today, Friday, June 28. The firearm was loaded with four bullets.

The man told officials that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police seized the weapon and issued the man a citation. Police confiscate firearms, not TSA. The man returned to his airline check-in counter to place his knife inside his checked bag.

“This was an excellent catch on the part of our TSA officer because this was not what one might define as a common looking firearm,” explained John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director at the airport. “This was a tiny folding gun that was the size of a credit card that would fit in the palm of a hand and might look more like a stack of six credit cards than a firearm at first glance.”

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

“Responsible gun owners know where their guns are at all times,” Busch said. “Telling us that you forgot that you were carrying a loaded gun is no excuse. It is unacceptable to bring a gun to an airport checkpoint. Now this individual faces a federal financial civil penalty in addition to having to deal with the criminal citation issued by the police.”

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 2024









(As of 6/28/24)

Guns caught at the Reagan National Airport checkpoints








Bringing a firearm 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.

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).