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TSA catches travelers with loaded guns for 3rd time in 9 days at DC airport

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport - entrance and control tower image from Wikimedia Commons.

WASHINGTON - Three loaded guns were discovered at airport checkpoints at Reagan National Airport in August, officials said, bringing the total number of weapons found this year to nine.

On Wednesday, August 15, a 20-year-old Oklahoma man was caught at an airport checkpoint carrying a .40-caliber handgun loaded with 12 bullets.

Airport police identified him as Richard Keith Jackson of Holdenville. He was arrested and cited for carrying a weapon in an airport terminal. Officials with the Transportation Security Administration said Jackson told them he had meant to leave the gun in his car but forgot.

Jackson's arrest comes just five days after Cabal Rafael Gonzalez, 28, of suburban Fairfax, Virginia, was caught with a 9mm handgun loaded with six bullets. On Aug. 6, TSA officers caught Michael Sellers, 40, of suburban Springfield, Virginia, at a checkpoint with a .45-caliber handgun loaded with four bullets.

That totals three guns over a nine-day span.

Wednesday's incident was the ninth time TSA officers have caught individuals traveling with guns, which are not allowed in carry-on bags. All firearms were confiscated, and the three men were cited on state weapons charges. TSA officials said the incidents were not related. Last year, TSA officers caught 13 guns at checkpoints at National Airport.

Meanwhile, on Monday, TSA officials caught an Alexandria, Virginia, man with a loaded gun at a security checkpoint at Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. It was the 18th gun found at a BWI checkpoint this year. Last year, TSA officials caught 26 firearms at BWI checkpoints.

Alex Natal, 65, was carrying a 9mm handgun loaded with 13 bullets, including one in the chamber. Natal also had two magazines with another 12 bullets in his luggage. He told TSA officials that he forgot he'd packed his loaded gun into his bag. Maryland Transportation Authority Police cited Natal on state weapons charges. Authorities confiscated his gun and ammunition.

TSA officials remind travelers that firearms must be properly packed in checked baggage and declared. Ammunition must be packed separately from firearms.

TSA can assess penalties of up to $13,000 for travelers who bring weapons to airports. A typical fine for a first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900.

This article was written by Lori Aratani, a reporter for The Washington Post.