On Oct. 12, the TSA said in a statement, a 22-year-old Hagerstown, Maryland, man was stopped at a checkpoint at BWI Marshall Airport when security officers found a collapsible .40-caliber rifle in his carry-on bag.
The gun wasn’t loaded. The man said he didn’t know the gun was there because his mother packed his bag.
“That excuse just doesn’t fly,” said TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. It will likely not come as a shock that he was arrested on weapons charges by the Maryland Transportation Authority police anyway.
And in a separate statement, the TSA said an Arlington, Virginia, woman was stopped at a checkpoint at Reagan National Airport on Tuesday with a loaded 9 mm handgun in her carry-on bag. There were 14 bullets in the handgun, including one in the chamber. She was cited by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police.
The TSA said it was the 13th gun caught at Reagan National so far this year, tying the total for all of last year. The rifle at BWI Marshall is the 20th of the year; there were 26 all of last year.
“The most common excuse we hear is ‘I forgot I had my gun with me,’ and more than 80 percent of those guns are loaded, so people are telling us that they forgot they had a loaded handgun with them,” Farbstein said.
Farbstein reminded travelers Wednesday morning that guns are not allowed at security checkpoints. Not if you have a permit. Not if they’re not loaded. Not if your mom packed your bag. Not ever.
“The idea is that nobody should have access to a gun in the cabin of a plane,” Farbstein said.
The typical penalty for a first offense (which the TSA has the authority to impose itself, no courts required) is $3,900, and can range up to $13,000, the agency said. And when agents find a gun in a bag they have to shut down that security line, and all the other travelers have to shift into a different one.
“You don’t want to be That Guy,” Farbstein said.
The TSA said in the statement firearms can only go on aircraft if they’re unloaded and packed in a locked, hard-sided case separate from any ammunition, in checked baggage and if you declare that you’re bringing a gun when you check the case. And that’s just their rules — the airline you’re flying on, and the state you’re traveling from or to, might have more restrictions.