Security at National Airport has caught three guns at checkpoints so far today and it’s only mid-afternoon.
Among the three people caught trying to illegally bring weapons on to a plane today, according to the Transportation Security Administration, was a Florida man who packed a handgun, five dozen bullets, and a tactical knife.
The TSA says firearms caught at DCA checkpoints for 2021 have now surpassed those for all of 2019.
More from a press release, below.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) caught three handguns at the airport checkpoints today, the 15th, 16th and 17th guns caught so far this year, surpassing the number of guns caught in 2019, prior to the pandemic when significantly more people were traveling through the airport. The incidents were not related.
“It looks like there is an epidemic of guns showing up at our airport,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA Federal Security Director for Reagan National Airport. “Here at DCA we are still experiencing notably lower checkpoint volumes compared to 2019, while we are seeing an increase in the number people bringing their guns to the checkpoints. Let me be crystal clear, TSA does not permit guns, ammunition or gun parts to be carried through our security checkpoints and if you bring a gun, loaded or not, you will face a stiff federal financial penalty in addition to any possible law enforcement criminal charges. Even if you have a permit to carry a gun, it cannot be brought into the cabin of a plane.”
Johnson pointed out that passengers can travel with their firearms if they pack them unloaded in a hard-sided locked case and declare them with their airline to ensure the guns are transported in the belly of the plane so that nobody has access to them during the flight.
On Wednesday morning, TSA officers caught a Fredericksburg, Virginia, woman with a .380 caliber handgun and a gun magazine loaded with five bullets in her carry-on bag. Shortly afterward, a Florida man was stopped with a 9mm handgun loaded with 15 bullets plus two additional gun magazines with 45 bullets and a tactical knife in his carry-on bag. Then, this afternoon, a Wisconsin man was prevented from carrying his 9mm handgun loaded with five bullets, including one in the chamber, from getting through the security checkpoint.
Each traveler was cited by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police, who confiscated the weapons. In addition, all three individuals face a federal financial civil penalty for bringing a gun to an airport security checkpoint.
Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. 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.
Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019 due to the pandemic. The result was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.
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