TSA catches 17th gun caught this year at Richmond International Airport

Local Press Release
Monday, November 2, 2020
This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Richmond International Airport on Nov. 1. (TSA photo)

RICHMOND, Va. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught the 17th gun of the year at a Richmond International Airport security checkpoint on Sunday, Nov. 1, which exceeds the number of guns detected in 2019 with two months remaining in the year and with about 60% fewer travelers since the start of the pandemic.

The man, a resident of Toano, Virginia, in James City County, was caught at the airport checkpoint with a .45 caliber handgun loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber. He also had an additional loose bullet in his carry-on bag. The airport police were alerted by TSA, responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and cited the man on weapons charges.

“Let’s be perfectly clear,” said Chuck Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Richmond International Airport. “Under no circumstances may travelers carry their firearms onto an airplane in a carry-on bag and this includes anyone with a concealed carry permit. If you want to travel with your gun, it needs to be unloaded, locked in a hard-sided case and declared with your airline. The airline will ensure that the firearm is transported in the belly of the aircraft with the other checked baggage so that nobody has access to it during the flight.” 

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 11-1-20)

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.