The Transportation Security Administration wants to send a clear message to passengers: No weapons allowed in flight.
On Thursday, TSA agents at a security checkpoint stopped an Atlanta man from bringing a loaded gun onto a flight at Washington Dulles International Airport.
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police said the 9mm handgun had 17 bullets loaded inside, with another bullet in the man’s carry-on bag. Officers also confiscated the man’s walking stick, which had a dagger-like sword hidden inside.
The man has been cited on weapons charges.
Scott T. Johnson, TSA’s federal security director for the airport, said in a news release that there’s a right way to go about traveling with your gun.
“For starters, the gun should be unloaded,” Johnson said. “Then packed in a locked hard-sided case and declared at the airline counter. The airline representative will make sure it gets loaded into the belly of the plane as checked baggage. The reason for this protocol is for safety. Nobody should have access to a loaded gun during a flight.”
He also encouraged travelers who use walking sticks to unscrew them and see whether they contain any weapons.
“Oftentimes people receive these items as gifts or they purchase them at a yard sale, flea market, garage sale or antique shop and are unaware that there is a weapon concealed inside,” Johnson said. “So we want to remind people to twist and inspect.”
This is the ninth gun caught at Dulles so far this year, and the second this week. This year’s total has already surpassed last year’s seven guns.
Last month, TSA agents at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, caught seven guns in nine days at security checkpoints, and a Virginia woman was caught with one earlier this week. Officers have caught 19 guns so far this year at Reagan.
In June, TSA agents at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Baltimore, Maryland, caught five handguns at security checkpoints, bringing the year-to-date total to 12.
See more about traveling safely with a gun from the TSA.