A resident of King George, Virginia, found himself in a tense situation at Reagan National Airport in Arlington last Thursday when Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers discovered a loaded handgun concealed in his carry-on bag. The alert was raised when the X-ray unit detected the firearm, prompting officers to inspect the bag, leading to the discovery and confiscation of the weapon.
According to a TSA press release, the man placed the blame squarely on his wife, asserting that she had packed his carry-on bag, and he was unaware of the presence of the firearm. Consequently, the man received a citation and faces a civil penalty from the TSA, which could result in a fine of up to $15,000.
John Busch, TSA's federal security director at Reagan National, expressed disappointment at the ongoing trend of travelers attempting to bring loaded firearms through security checkpoints. He advised travelers to begin their packing process with an entirely empty bag and emphasized the importance of individuals personally packing their bags to avoid unforeseen surprises during security checks.
Busch highlighted the gravity of the situation, citing it as the sixth firearm intercepted by TSA at Reagan National Airport in just three weeks. He stressed that there is no reasonable excuse for not being aware of carrying an unsecured, loaded firearm in one's bag.
To ensure compliance with regulations, it's crucial for passengers to understand that firearms can only be transported in checked bags, where they must be unloaded and securely packed in a hard-sided locked case. This locked hard case should be presented at the airline's check-in counter, following TSA guidelines.
Between 2018 and 2023, TSA records reveal 128 firearms were detected at Reagan National Airport security checkpoints. The numbers for each year are as follows: 16 in 2018, 14 in 2019, 10 in 2020, 30 in 2021, 29 in 2022, and 28 as of September 21, 2023. In 2022, TSA screened a total of 6,542 firearms at 262 of the 430 airport security checkpoints across the United States, with a staggering 88% of these firearms found to be loaded.
This year alone, there have been approximately 4,000 handguns confiscated at TSA checkpoints nationwide, underscoring the need for travelers to be acutely aware of firearm transport regulations and exercise utmost diligence when packing for air travel.