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Prince George’s County man cited by police after TSA stops him from carrying a loaded handgun onto his flight at Reagan National Airport

ARLINGTON, Va. – A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) prevented a Prince George’s County, Md., resident from bringing a loaded handgun onto his flight this morning, June 23. It was the 11th gun detected by TSA officers at the airport so far this year.

The .45 caliber gun, was loaded with 10 bullets and was detected via the X-ray machine as the Capitol Heights, Md., man was entering the security checkpoint with his carry-on items. TSA officials notified the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police who confiscated the gun and cited the man on a weapons charge.

“Bringing a loaded gun to a TSA security checkpoint is an accident waiting to happen,” said John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Guns, ammunition and security checkpoints don’t mix. If you want to travel with your firearm, all you need to do is make sure it is unloaded and packed in a locked hard-sided case that you hand deliver to your airline check-in counter to declare that you want to fly with it. The airline representative will make sure it is transported in the belly of the aircraft so that nobody has access to it during the flight.”

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Firearms Caught at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport checkpoints, 2017 to 2022

Year

2017

2018

2019

2020*

2021

2022

(As of 6/23/22)

Guns caught at DCA checkpoints

13

16

14

10

30

11

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 handgun 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 even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for 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 may lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2022, about 86 percent were loaded.

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