TSA catches 14th gun caught this year at Richmond International Airport

Gun ties the number caught in 2019 with about 60% fewer travelers due to the pandemic
Local Press Release
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Richmond International Airport on Sept. 20. (TSA photo)

RICHMOND, Va. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught the 14th gun of the year at Richmond International Airport on Monday, Sept. 21, tying the number caught in 2019 with three months remaining in the year and with about 60% fewer travelers since the start of the pandemic.

“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. “With passenger volume in the neighborhood of 60% lower than this time in 2019  as a result of the pandemic, it is an extremely disturbing trend. The vast majority of travelers claim that they forgot that they had their gun with them. Quite frankly, that’s not an acceptable  reason for carrying a firearm on an aircraft. This individual now faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty.”

Passengers are permitted to transport their 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.

On Monday, TSA officers caught the 14th gun belonging to a Richmond, Virginia woman who had a .357 caliber handgun in one of her carry-on bags. It was not loaded, however there were five loose bullets also in that same carry-on bag. As soon as TSA officers detected the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, they alerted the airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and detained the woman for questioning before arresting her on weapons charges.

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.

Guns caught at Richmond International Airport checkpoints from 2016 to 2020

Guns caught by year






(as of 9-21-20)

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.