NORFOLK, Va., - A Virginia Beach man was caught by the Transportation Security Administration with a loaded handgun at a Norfolk International Airport checkpoint on Wednesday, May 15. It marked the fifth gun that TSA officers have caught at the airport so far this year. In 2018, TSA officers stopped 21 guns at the airport’s checkpoints.
TSA officers detected the loaded .380 caliber handgun in the carry-on bag of the man yesterday. It had five bullets in it, including one in the chamber. Airport police were contacted, responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and detained the man for questioning.
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.
Nationwide last year, 4,239 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 11.6 firearms per day, approximately a 7% 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% had a bullet in the chamber.
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed firearm permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes in their carry-on bags. If you’re a TSA Pre✓® member, then you could even lose your status. In addition, TSA has the authority to assess civil penalties of up to $13,333 for weapons violations. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.