NORFOLK, Va. — Transportation Security Administration officers at Norfolk International Airport stopped two men with loaded guns at the checkpoints on consecutive days this week.
A Virginia Beach man was stopped with a .40-caliber handgun loaded with 10 bullets, including one in the chamber on Tuesday, July 23. The very next day, on Wednesday, July 24, a North Carolina man was stopped with a .45-caliber handgun loaded with eight bullets, also with a bullet in the chamber. The guns marked the seventh and eighth guns that TSA officers have caught at the airport so far this year. In 2018, TSA officers stopped 21 guns at the airport’s checkpoints.
In each instance, the TSA officers detected the loaded handguns in the carry-on bags of the men. Airport police were contacted, responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapons and detained the men for questioning. The two incidents were not related.
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, 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 $4,00. 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.