TSA catches 16th gun caught this year at Richmond International Airport, surpassing the number caught last year

Gun surpasses the number caught in 2019 with about 60% fewer travelers due to the pandemic
Local Press Release
Monday, October 26, 2020
This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Richmond International Airport on Oct. 25. (TSA photo)

RICHMOND, Va. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught the 16th gun of the year at a Richmond International Airport security checkpoint on Sunday, Oct. 25, surpassing the number of firearms detected in 2019 with a little more than two months remaining in the year and with about 60% fewer travelers since the start of the pandemic.

The man was caught with an unloaded 9mm handgun and a magazine with 16 bullets among his carry-on items. The airport police were alerted by TSA, responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and loaded magazine and cited the man, issuing two summons for him to appear in court. The man is a resident of Arizona.

“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. “When you factor in that the pandemic has resulted in passenger volume in the neighborhood of 60% lower than this time in 2019, it is an extremely disturbing to see more passengers carrying guns with them. When caught with a firearm, most travelers claim that they forgot that they had their gun with them. Quite frankly, that’s not an acceptable excuse. That’s just carelessness. 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.

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 10-25-20)

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.