Congresswoman Caught With Handgun at DC Airport

( – The Transporation Security Administration (TSA) intercepted 1,503 firearms at airport checkpoints nationwide during the first quarter of 2024 for an average of 16.5 per day at a rate of 7.3 per million passengers. Ninety-three percent of them were loaded. Those figures mirror the 1,508 found by TSA agents during the first quarter of 2023.

Recent reports indicated that TSA officials caught a congresswoman with a handgun while boarding a flight out of a Washington, DC, metro area airport.

Congresswoman Caught Carrying Firearm at DC Airport

On July 1, Indianapolis-based WISH-TV reported that Virginia law enforcement officials cited Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN) for carrying an unloaded weapon at Dulles International Airport, about half an hour from Washington, DC. A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority confirmed that local law enforcement officials charged the Ukrainian-born lawmaker with a weapons violation on June 28.

Carrying an unloaded firearm in an airport terminal is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, punishable by up to 12 months in jail or a fine of up to $2,500. It is a criminal offense and will appear as a criminal conviction in Spartz’s record. She also faces federal penalties, including a five-year suspension of her TSA PreCheck┬« eligibility.

Likewise, a TSA spokesperson said officials “detected” an unloaded .380 caliber handgun in her possession during routine passenger screening. Spartz had the firearm in a carry-on bag.

Spartz hasn’t responded directly to the report. However, her office issues a brief statement about the incident. The notice said the lawmaker “accidentally carried an empty handgun in her suitcase” without any bullets or a magazine. The statement also confirmed that Spartz received a citation from local officials and proceeded on her international flight to attend a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly.

Federal Law

Federal law (49 CFR 1540.5) allows individuals to travel with firearms if certain conditions are met. For instance, they must be unloaded and stored in a locked hard-sided case in a passenger’s checked baggage, and travelers must declare them to airline officials when checking their luggage at a ticket counter.

The TSA imposes a civil penalty on violators ranging from $1,500 to $5,370 for unloaded firearms. Loaded firearms carry a penalty of $3,000 to $10,700 for the first offense and $10,700 to $14,950 for repeat violations. A mandatory criminal referral accompanies any firearms infraction.

TSA officials do not confiscate any firearms they find. Instead, they contact local law enforcement officials who ensure the weapons are unloaded and take possession of the gun. Depending on local statutes, officials may cite or arrest offenders.

Although it may sound trivial, the fact Spartz didn’t have any ammunition is significant. Under 49 CFR 1540.5, a firearm is considered loaded even if it’s empty if an individual has ammo readily available.

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