RICHMOND, Va. – A Williamsburg, Virginia, man was issued a summons by police at Richmond International Airport on Thursday, Feb. 20, after a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer spotted a .380 caliber handgun loaded with seven bullets, including one in the chamber, in the traveler’s carry-on bag.
TSA officials notified the airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and detained the man for questioning before arresting him on a weapons charge.
Passengers are permitted to travel with 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.
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.
Guns caught at Richmond International Airport from 2016 to 2020
Guns caught by year
(as of 2-20-20)
Richmond International Airport
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to a security 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.