Man arrested at Richmond International Airport after TSA detects gun in his carry-on bag

Man claims he could not find his airline’s check-in counter
Local Press Release
Monday, November 30, 2020
This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Richmond International Airport on Nov. 28. (TSA photo)

RICHMOND, Va. – Transportation Security Administration officers detected a .380 caliber handgun and a magazine loaded with nine bullets among a Florida man’s belongings as they entered the security checkpoint X-ray machine at Richmond International Airport on Saturday, Nov. 28.

TSA alerted airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and arrested the man, a resident of Florida. He told officials that he knew that he had his handgun with him when he entered the checkpoint and that he originally wanted to place the gun in a checked bag, but claimed that he did not know where to find the Spirit Airlines check-in counter. Instead, he said he planned to carry his gun to the gate in hopes he might be able to check his gun upon boarding his flight.

“Under no circumstances should anyone attempt to bring a handgun through a security checkpoint,” said Chuck Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Richmond International Airport. “This was the 20th firearm detected this year at Richmond International Airport. Claiming that you are not aware of the location of airline ticket counters is not an excuse. Every airport employee would have informed him of the location. For a gun owner who wants to fly, TSA frequently publishes guidelines on how to transport a firearm in checked baggage only. Attempting to go through a screening checkpoint or an airline gate with a firearm has been against the law for decades. He now faces a stiff Federal financial civil penalty.”

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 11-28-20)

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.