On December 24, Christmas Eve, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport intercepted a Bethesda, Maryland woman attempting to board a flight with a loaded handgun. The 9mm firearm, containing six bullets, was discovered in the woman’s carry-on luggage during a routine security screening.
This incident marks a significant increase in the number of firearms detected at airport checkpoints, particularly at this airport. It is the 39th gun found by TSA officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport this year, setting a new record. The previous high was 30 firearms intercepted in a single year, recorded in 2021. This uptick reflects a national trend of more travelers attempting to bring guns to airport security checkpoints.
Potential Consequences: Stiff Penalties for Carrying Weapons through Security
Upon detection of the gun at the security checkpoint, the X-ray unit signaled a need for further inspection of the carry-on bag. Subsequently, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police were summoned, who then confiscated the firearm and cited the woman on a weapons charge.
Carrying firearms through airport security checkpoints is strictly prohibited, and as a result, the individual now faces a substantial civil penalty from the TSA. Penalties for such violations can escalate up to $15,000.
It’s important to note that firearm possession laws differ by state and locality. Gun owners are responsible for ensuring they comply with all local firearm regulations. In addition, those intending to travel with firearms and ammunition are advised to consult their airline for specific guidelines and requirements.
“Bringing a gun to an airport security checkpoint was no way to enter the holiday,” said John Busch, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “There’s naughty and there’s nice at this time of year and the nice way to transport your firearm is to make sure it is unloaded, locked in a hard-sided case and declared at your airline check-in counter. The naughty way is to bring it to a checkpoint. This traveler was cited by the police and will likely receive a federal civil penalty of thousands of dollars. Responsible gun owners know where their guns are at all times and they know not to bring them to an airport checkpoint.”