Woman issued summons after TSA catches her with handgun at Richmond International Airport security checkpoint

Local Press Release
This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Richmond International Airport on July 27. (TSA photo)

RICHMOND, Va. – Transportation Security Administration officers stopped an Arizona woman from carrying a 9 mm handgun onto an airplane at Richmond International Airport on Monday, July 27. It was not loaded.

TSA officials immediately alerted the airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and detained the woman for questioning before issuing her two summons with a court date as a result of the incident.

“Even though there have been many fewer passengers as a result of the pandemic, we continue to see them bringing handguns to the checkpoint,” said Chuck Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Richmond International Airport. “Our TSA officers are very skilled at detecting firearms and other prohibited items. I strongly urge passengers to be certain they don’t have any prohibited or illegal items in their carry-on or checked bag before arriving at the airport. It’s always a good idea to start with an empty bag when packing to make sure that you haven’t accidentally left something inside that is not permitted past a checkpoint.”

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at the airline check-in counter. 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 check for firearm laws in the jurisdictions they are flying to and from.

Guns caught at Richmond International Airport checkpoints from 2016 to 2020

Guns caught by year

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

(as of 7-27-20)

Richmond International Airport

10

18

14

14

12

Nationwide last year, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018. Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.

As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to a security 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 the individual is a TSA Pre✓® member, that person could even lose their TSA Pre✓® status. In addition, TSA has the authority to assess financial civil penalties of up to $13,333 for weapons violations. 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.

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