TSA officers prevent local man from bringing loaded handgun onto a flight at Roanoke Airport

Local Press Release
Monday, July 8, 2024
This firearm was detected by TSA officers at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport security checkpoint on July 3. (TSA photo)

ROANOKE, Va. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport prevented a Roanoke man from bringing his loaded gun past the security checkpoint today, July 3. The .380 caliber firearm was loaded with six bullets.

The handgun was detected as the man entered the security checkpoint. The X-ray unit alerted on the carry-on bag, which required a closer inspection by TSA officials. The firearm was removed by the police, who confiscated the weapon. TSA does not confiscate firearms caught at checkpoints, law enforcement does.

The man now faces a stiff financial civil penalty for bringing a gun to a TSA security checkpoint. The penalty for carrying weapons can reach as high as $15,000, depending on the circumstances.

Passengers are only permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

 “Bringing a loaded gun to an airport security checkpoint introduces an unnecessary security risk to our officers and to fellow travelers on what is one of the busiest travel days of the year,” said Robin “Chuck” Burke, TSA’s federal security director for the airport. “We have no issues with people who pack their firearms properly for a flight. Bringing a loaded handgun isn’t the way to do it. The proper way is to pack your unloaded firearm in a locked hard-sided case. Then take the case to your airline check-in counter and declare that you want to travel with it. The airline will make sure it is transported in the belly of the plane so that nobody has access to it during the flight. It’s a fairly simple process.”

Last year TSA officers at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport intercepted five firearms at the security checkpoints. Wednesday’s gun catch was the fourth of 2024.  

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and gun owners have a duty to ensure they are not violating any local firearm laws. Additionally, contacting the respective airline could reveal any additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a gun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because a concealed carry permit does not allow a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither? Download the free myTSA app, which has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that allows you to type in the item to find out if it can fly. Or ask on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA. Travelers may send a question by texting “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).