DULLES, Va. – A Transportation Security Administration officer stopped a West Virginia man from bringing a loaded handgun onto an airplane at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) today, Friday, November 30.
The TSA officer spotted the gun in the Martinsburg, West Virginia, resident’s carry-on bag at one of the airport checkpoints when it appeared on the X-ray monitor. The man told TSA officials that he forgot that he was carrying his loaded gun with him.
The .22 caliber handgun was loaded with five bullets, including one in the chamber. Typically, more than 80 percent of handguns caught at checkpoints nationwide are loaded.
TSA officers immediately contacted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police, and when they arrived at the checkpoint, they confiscated the firearm, detained him for questioning and cited the man on a state weapons charge. There was no impact to airport operations.
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. This includes travelers with gun permits. A permit to carry a firearm does not allow for it to be brought onto an aircraft.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.
TSA has the authority to access civil penalties of up to $13,000 for travelers who bring weapons to airports. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900. Even travelers who have a firearm permit are not allowed to bring their guns past checkpoints. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
TSA’s website has details on how to properly travel with a firearm. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.