A Virginia man was cited by police at Reagan National Airport Thursday after Transportation Security Administration officers found a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag.
Officers found a .22 caliber pistol loaded with five bullets in the man’s bag after the security checkpoint X-ray team alerted them to take a closer look. The man blamed his wife, who he said packed the bag, according to a TSA news release.
The man faces up to a $15,000 civil penalty for bringing the weapon into a security checkpoint. Even passengers with concealed carry permits can be fined by TSA for improperly following firearm guidelines, as such permits do not enable you to bring guns onto an airplane.
John Busch, TSA’s federal security director, said this is the sixth firearm TSA has confiscated at Reagan National in the last three weeks, according to the news release.
As of Thursday, TSA reports 28 firearms have been confiscated by Reagan National agents this year — that’s compared to 29 total in 2022 and 30 total in 2021. This year’s figure doubles that in 2019, when TSA caught 14 guns.
Busch called it “disappointing” to see people bring loaded weapons to security checkpoints, advising travelers to start with an empty bag when packing and to always pack the bag themselves so there are “no surprises.”
“When you start with an empty bag, there are no chances that a prohibited or illegal item is inside and incidents like the one that happened on Thursday don’t happen again,” he added.
Passengers can bring firearms in their checked luggage, provided they are unloaded and packed in a hard-sided locked case. They should also be declared at the airline’s check-in counter.
TSA advises anyone traveling with a gun to check their website for further guidelines, and also to check their airline’s individual firearm policies.
“There is no reasonable excuse for not knowing you are carrying an unsecured, loaded firearm in your bag. It presents a danger to everyone around you,” Busch said. “I urge all responsible gun owners to maintain awareness of where their firearms are stored.”
More than 6,500 firearms were caught by TSA at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints across the country last year, according to the news release. TSA said over 4,000 handguns have been stopped at security checkpoints this year.
The full list of TSA civil penalties for traveling with prohibited items is posted online.