RICHMOND, Va.– A Hanover County, Virginia, woman was cited by police at Richmond International Airport on Friday, February 22nd after a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer found a loaded handgun in the traveler’s carry-on bag.
The 9 mm handgun, which had a pink and purple marble design, was loaded with five bullets. A TSA officer who was staffing the checkpoint X-ray monitor detected the handgun inside the woman’s carry-on bag as it entered the X-ray machine. The woman, a resident of Doswell, Virginia, told officials that she forgot that she had her loaded gun with her.
TSA officials notified the airport police, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and arrested her on weapons charges.
It marked the second firearm that TSA officers have caught at the airport so far this calendar year. In 2018, TSA stopped 14 guns at the airport’s checkpoints.
In total, 4,239 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country last year, averaging about 11.6 firearms per day, approximately a 7 percent increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 3,957 detected in 2017. Eighty-six percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded and nearly 34 percent had a bullet in the chamber.
As a reminder, individuals who bring weapons to the checkpoint are subject to federal civil penalties of up to $13,000. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on TSA.gov. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.