RICHMOND, Va. – A King William County, Virginia, man was cited on state weapons charges by police at Richmond International Airport on Saturday, October 5, after a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer found a 9 mm handgun in the traveler’s carry-on bag. It was not loaded, although the man had eight bullets with him.
The TSA officer who was staffing the checkpoint X-ray monitor detected the handgun inside the man’s carry-on bag as it entered the X-ray machine. The man, a resident of West Point, Virginia, said he forgot that he had his gun with him.
TSA officials notified the airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the gun and issued a citation to the man.
It marked the 11th handgun that TSA officers have caught at the airport so far this calendar year. In 2018, TSA stopped 14 guns at the airport’s checkpoints.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.
Nationwide last year, 4,239 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 11.6 firearms per day, approximately a 7% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 3,957 detected in 2017. Eighty-six percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded and nearly 34% had a bullet in the chamber.
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed firearm permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes in their carry-on bags. If the individual is a TSA Pre✓® member, that person could even lose their TSA Pre✓® status. In addition, TSA has the authority to assess civil penalties of up to $13,333 for weapons violations. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
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.