WASHINGTON – It proved to be a truly bad Friday the 13th for a Fairfax County, Virginia, man this morning when Transportation Security Administration officers detected a 9 mm handgun loaded with 10 bullets in his carry-on bag at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) early this morning.
The gun was spotted by a TSA officer in the checkpoint X-ray machine. TSA contacted the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority Police, who arrived at the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and detained the man, a resident of Reston, Virginia, for questioning before citing him on a weapons charge.
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed firearm permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes. In addition, TSA has the authority to assess civil for weapons brought to airports and the typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at the airline check-in counter. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.
Nationwide last year, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018. Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.
Guns caught at DCA checkpoints from 2015 to 2020
(as of 3-13-20)
Guns caught at DCA checkpoints
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.