A Bowie, Md., man was cited by police after he was stopped by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers with a loaded handgun at one of the checkpoints at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Tuesday, Aug. 29. The 9mm handgun was loaded with 12 bullets and was packed in the man’s carry-on bag next to another gun magazine, also loaded with 12 bullets.
The gun was caught as the man entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted the TSA officer to check the carry-on bag, which was opened by police for a closer inspection. Police confiscated the gun and cited the man on state charges.
The next day, TSA officers at Washington Dulles International Airport prevented a female resident of Indian Head, Md., from bringing her loaded handgun onto a flight yesterday. The 9mm handgun was loaded with 10 bullets.
The weapon was caught as the woman entered the security checkpoint. 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.
Both individuals now face a stiff financial civil penalty. Civil penalties for carrying weapons can reach a maximum of $15,000.
“Labor Day holiday travel is underway and when travelers bring prohibited or illegal items such as a loaded gun to any of our security checkpoints, it slows down the screening process during a very busy time of year,” explained Scott T. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Washington Dulles. “When someone shows up with a firearm at the checkpoint, the conveyor belt is stopped until the police arrive and can remove the carry-on bag from the X-ray machine to safely secure the weapon. Guns should never be brought to the security checkpoint in carry-on luggage. This is not a new rule. People have not been permitted to carry a gun into the cabin of a plane for decades before TSA even existed.”
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.
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.