TSA continues to detect firearms at Virginia airport checkpoints

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Travelers can travel with their firearms if they are packed properly
Local Press Release
Tuesday, May 22, 2018

RICHMOND – It seems all too common for Transportation Security Administration officers to be detecting guns at airports throughout Virginia.

In total, 3,957 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country last year, averaging about 11 firearms per day, approximately a 17 percent increase in firearm discoveries from the total of 3,391 detected in 2016. Eighty-four percent of the guns caught in 2017 were loaded.

Guns continue to show up at checkpoints at Richmond and Norfolk International Airports this year, outpacing those brought to the busiest airports in the state. Travelers who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA. Even if a traveler has a concealed weapon permit, firearms are not permitted to be carried onto an airplane. However, travelers with proper firearm permits can travel legally with their firearms in their checked bags if they follow a few simple guidelines.

Airport 2017 2018 to date
Washington Dulles International Airport 19 5
Richmond International Airport 18 5
Norfolk International Airport 10 9
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport 13 3
Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Airport 4 1
Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport 3 1
Lynchburg Regional Airport 2 1
Newport News-Williamsburg Regional Airport 2 0
Total 71 25

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. TSA advises travelers to familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure to ensure that they have the proper gun permits for the states that they are traveling to and from. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition so travelers should also contact the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed in a hard-side case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Ammunition must be in its original box and can be packed inside the hard-side case, next to the firearm. Even if the box of ammunition is not full, the bullets must be in their original case. Then the case with the firearm should be brought to the airline check-in counter and the airline representative informed that the passenger wants to travel with the gun. Firearms are transported inside checked baggage and are placed in the belly of the aircraft. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Firearms Detected at TSA Checkpoints Nationwide

Year Nationwide
2017 3,957
2016 3,391
2015 2,653
2014 2,212
2013 1,813
2012 1,556
2011 1,320
2010 1,123

As a reminder, individuals who bring weapons to a checkpoint are subject to federal civil penalties of up to $13,000. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900. The complete list of penalties is posted online.