TSA Officers Prevent West Virginia Woman From Bringing Loaded Gun Onto Flight at Dulles Airport

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced it prevented a West Virgina woman from bringing a handgun onto a flight at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) on Monday, February 12.

Per the news release: The 9mm handgun was loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber. There was also additional ammunition packed alongside the gun.

The weapon was caught as the woman entered the security checkpoint and the X-ray unit alerted on her carry-on bag. TSA officials notified the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police who confiscated the gun and cited the woman on a weapons charge. She told officials that she forgot that she was carrying her loaded gun with her.

In addition to the citation by airport police, this individual now faces a stiff financial civil penalty. Civil penalties for carrying weapons can reach a maximum of $15,000.

“It is disappointing to continue to see travelers bringing guns to our security checkpoints,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Claiming that you forgot that you had a loaded gun with you is a tragic accident waiting to happen. There is no excuse for bringing a gun to the checkpoint. Responsible gun owners do not bring their guns to a checkpoint.”

Firearms are not permitted through a security checkpoint because passengers should not have access to a firearm during a flight. This even applies to travelers with concealed carry permits or are enrolled in the TSA PreCheck® program, who will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges if they bring a gun to a checkpoint.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are unloaded and packed in a hard-sided locked case. Then 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.

Last year, 6,735 firearms were caught at airport security checkpoints nationwide, of which 93 percent were loaded.

TSA firearms catches at airport checkpoints at Washington Dulles International National Airport, 2016 to 2024

Year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024

(as of 2/12/24)

Guns caught at Washington Dulles International Airport checkpoints 24 19 17 19 7  19 25 24 2

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. 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.

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.

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).

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Contact: Elisenda Sola-Sole, Festival Director

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