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TSA catches three guns in one day at DCA

The banner year for gun confiscations at Reagan National Airport is continuing.

TSA agents stopped not one, not two, but three guns from being brought onto planes in carry-on baggage this past Friday. The three separate incidents — involving men from Rockville, Md.; Georgia; and Stafford, Va. — are not related, the TSA said.

So far this year officers have confiscated 37 guns at DCA, up from 29 last year and 14 in 2019.

More, below, from a TSA press release.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport prevented three travelers from carrying their handguns onto their flights today (Friday, Dec. 15). The incidents were not related.

It marked gun numbers 35, 36 and 37 that TSA officers at the airport have detected at the checkpoints so far this year, which is the most guns caught at the airport in a single year and the most caught in a single day. It also follows a national trend in seeing a spike in the number of travelers who are bringing guns to airport checkpoints across the country. The previous high number of firearms stopped at the airport in a single year was 30, which took place in 2021.

Early this morning, TSA officers stopped a Rockville, Md., man who was in possession of a 9mm handgun that was loaded with 16 bullets and was packed alongside a gun magazine that was loaded with 17 additional bullets.

Two hours late, TSA officers stopped a man from Georgia who was in possession of a 9mm handgun. The firearm was not loaded, but it was packed along with 15 accessible bullets.

Then this evening, a third man, this one from Stafford, Va., was stopped with a 9mm handgun loaded with 15 bullets.

The guns were caught as the men entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted the TSA to take a closer look inside the carry-on bags. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police confiscated the guns and cited the individuals on weapons charges.

Guns are not permitted through the security checkpoint and now each traveler faces a stiff financial civil penalty from TSA. The penalty for carrying weapons can reach a maximum of $15,000.

“Today, one of our busiest days of the holiday season, we unfortunately had three passengers bring their firearms to our TSA security checkpoints. Our officers remain engaged and alert and caught these weapons before they could be brought to the aircraft,” said John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “I am disappointed to continue seeing an increasing number of travelers bring their firearms to checkpoints. It’s careless to do so and there is no excuse. Responsible gun owners know where their guns are at all times. These travelers now face a Federal civil penalty that could cost them thousands of dollars.

“The holiday travel season is upon us and this is no time to be toting a gun to our checkpoints, yet this morning it happened twice. That delays everyone and is an accident waiting to happen in a busy, crowded terminal,” Busch added.

Passengers are only permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage. Firearms must be unloaded then packed in a hard-sided locked case. 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 gun owners have a duty to ensure they are not violating any local firearm laws. Additionally, contacting the respective airline could reveal any additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

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 gun 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 a concealed carry permit does not allow 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.

Last year, 6,542 firearms were caught at airport security checkpoints nationwide. So far this year more than 6,000 handguns have been stopped at security checkpoints by TSA officers across the country, which is on track to set a new annual record.

Unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither? Download the free myTSA app, which has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that allows you to type in the item to find out if it can fly. Or ask on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA. Travelers may send a question by texting “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).

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