Reagan National TSA finds 6th gun of 2023 at security checkpoint

TSA officers at Ronald Reagan National Airport stopped a man from bringing a loaded handgun onto a flight this week. It was the third gun caught at one of the airport security checkpoints within a week, and the sixth such gun discovered this year, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

On Wednesday, an Alexandria, Virginia, man entered a security checkpoint at the airport and was subsequently prevented from bringing his 9mm handgun – loaded with 10 bullets – onto his flight, according to a news release.

In addition to receiving a citation from airport police, the man faces a civil penalty of up to $15,000 for carrying the gun.

There were 29 guns found at TSA checkpoints at Reagan National in 2022. In 2021, 30 guns were found – three times as many as the year before.

TSA firearms catches at airport checkpoints at Reagan National Airport since 2016

Airport 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023

(as of 1/25/23)

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) 19 13 16 14 10 30 29 6

“It is disappointing to see so many individuals bringing their guns to our security checkpoints,” said John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “I sure hope this is not the new normal here at Reagan National Airport. We are happy to make sure that firearms travel with their owners as long as the guns are packed properly, and that starts with ensuring that they are unloaded.”

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are unloaded and packed in a hard-sided locked case, according to TSA. The locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared.

TSA officers stopped an Alexandria, Va., man with this handgun at the Reagan National Airport security checkpoint on Wednesday. (TSA photo)

Firearms are not permitted through a security checkpoint because passengers should not have access to a firearm during a flight.

“Please understand that any time dangerous items are presented in the screening checkpoint, we have serious safety concerns for all in the area, and the resolution disrupts the process for the passengers waiting behind the offender,” Busch said. “Individuals who own firearms should familiarize themselves with regulations regarding where their weapons can and cannot be carried.”

According to TSA, last year, 6,542 firearms were caught at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide, and 88 percent of those guns were loaded.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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