TSA catches local man with loaded handgun at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport

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

ROANOKE, Va. – Transportation Security Administration officers stopped a Salem, Virginia, man from carrying a .22 caliber handgun onto an airplane at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport on Thursday, September 3. It was loaded with five bullets.

TSA officials detected the gun in the man’s carry-on bag. They immediately alerted the airport police, who responded to the checkpoint and confiscated the weapon.

“Guns are prohibited in the cabins of airplanes. It is a law that has been in place long before TSA even existed,” said Chuck Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the 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 bags 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.”

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.

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.