Transportation Security Administration officials at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, have already intercepted more firearms in 2021 than in any of the last several years.
Security officials stationed at the airport — one of three serving Washington, D.C. — have found 19 guns so far in 2021, including seven in a recent nine-day span, TSA said in a news release Monday.
With more than five months left in the year, TSA said officials at the airport have already detected more guns in 2021 than in 2017 (13), 2018 (16), 2019 (14) or 2020 (10).
“There seems to be no cure for this rash of guns that are turning up at our checkpoints here at Reagan National Airport. The real solution is in the hands of the travelers,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA federal security director for Reagan National Airport.
TSA allows passengers to travel with firearms in their checked baggage, but any guns must be unloaded, packed separate from ammunition, stored appropriately and declared at their airline’s ticket counter.
“Individuals who continue to bring their firearms to our checkpoints will continue to face criminal penalties and federal civil penalties that will prove to be extremely costly, and they’ll have nobody to blame other than themselves,” Mr. Johnson said in a statement.
TSA said the most recent of the 19 firearms its officials found at Reagan National Airport this year was a loaded .40 caliber handgun belonging to a Baltimore man on Saturday.
Previously, TSA said Friday that officials at the same airport stopped a local man from boarding his flight with a loaded .38 caliber handgun that morning.
TSA said each traveler caught recently with a weapon had their gun confiscated, was cited by police and now faces appropriate federal civil penalties.
Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 found in 2020, or roughly 10 firearms per million passengers, according to the agency. That is up from about five firearms per million passengers in 2019, prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic resulting in less people traveling last year.
“If you want to travel with your gun, pack it the right way or leave it at home,” Mr. Johnson added. “Our TSA officers are good at their jobs and they have continued to stay focused on their mission throughout this pandemic.”
Reagan National Airport (DCA) is located across the Potomac River from the District. Other major airports in the region include Dulles International Airport (IAD), also in Virginia, and Washington International-Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) in Maryland.
TSA officials at Reagan National intercepted six guns in 2013, 14 guns in 2014 and 15 guns in 2015, according to the agency’s website. Different pages on the site list the tally for 2016 as either 17 or 19.