ROANOKE, Va. – A Lexington, Virginia, man was stopped by the Transportation Security Administration with a handgun loaded with six bullets at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport checkpoint on Monday, July 22. The TSA officer who was staffing the checkpoint X-ray monitor detected the .32 caliber handgun inside the man’s carry-on bag.
TSA officials notified the airport police, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and cited the man on a weapons charge. It marked the second gun that TSA officers have detected at the airport so far this year. In 2018, six guns were caught at the airport’s checkpoint.
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.
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.
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed carry permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes. In addition, TSA has the authority to access civil penalties of up to $13,000. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $4,000. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.