Man issued summons after TSA catches him with loaded handgun at Richmond International Airport security checkpoint

Local Press Release
Friday, September 4, 2020
This loaded handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Richmond International Airport on September 3. (TSA photo)

RICHMOND, Va. – Transportation Security Administration officers stopped a Fauquier County, Virginia, man from carrying a .380 caliber handgun onto an airplane at Richmond International Airport on Thursday, September 3. It was loaded with six bullets and an additional magazine with six more bullets was also detected in possession of the man.

TSA officials detected the gun in the man’s carry-on bag. They immediately alerted the airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and detained the man, a resident of Warrenton, Virginia, for questioning before issuing him a summons with a court date as a result of the incident.

“Guns are prohibited in the cabins of airplanes. It’s nothing new. It is a law that has been in place long before TSA even existed,” said Chuck Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Richmond International Airport. “Our officers have caught 13 guns so far this year compared to 14 during all 12 months of 2019. Considering the fact that there are about 75 to 80 percent fewer passengers flying due to the pandemic, it’s not a pretty picture. Actually, it is an extremely disturbing trend.”

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns with them at a checkpoint. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100 and can go as high as $13,669 depending on any mitigating circumstances. 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. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck™, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck™ privileges.

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





2020 (as of 9-3-20)

Richmond International Airport






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.

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.