TSA Thwarts Attempt to Bring Handgun onto Flight at Reagan National Airport

Courtesy TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport stopped a Tennessee woman from carrying her handgun onto a flight on Sunday, March 11.

Per the news release: The .380 caliber gun was unloaded, however it was packed alongside 20 bullets when the TSA officers detected the weapon among the woman’s carry-on items.

The gun was detected as the woman entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted the TSA to take a closer look inside the carry-on bag. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police confiscated the gun and cited the individual on a weapons charge.  TSA does not confiscate firearms, law enforcement does.

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

“Bringing a loaded gun to an airport security checkpoint introduces unnecessary risks and delays fellow travelers,” said John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Spring break travel is upon us and this is a very busy time of year at the airport. Responsible gun owners know where their guns are at all times and they know not to bring them to an airport security checkpoint. Our TSA officers remain vigilant during this busy travel season to help ensure everyone can travel safely.”

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

Year 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024

(As of 3/10/24)

Guns caught at the Reagan National Airport checkpoints    16 14     10 30  29 39 8

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and gun owners have a duty to ensure they are not violating any local firearm laws. Additionally, contacting the respective airline could reveal any additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

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. 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.

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

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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