Sunday, April 14, 2024

TSA Detected 117 Firearms at Virginia Airport Checkpoints in 2023

This loaded handgun was detected by TSA officers at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Christmas Eve (Dec. 24). (TSA photo)

WASHINGTON — Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped 117 handguns at Virginia airport security checkpoints in 2023, one less than the 118 guns caught in 2022.

All of the firearms were discovered by TSA officers during the routine screening of carry-on property at airport security checkpoints, it said.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 6,737 firearms at airport security checkpoints in 2023 — a significant increase from the 6,542 detected in 2022.

Of the guns caught in 2023, approximately 93% were loaded, according to TSA. Firearms were caught at 265 airport checkpoints nationwide.

TSA officials said they are very concerned that the majority of individuals with firearms at checkpoints claim that they forgot that their gun was in their carry-on bag, which introduces an unnecessary security risk in the checkpoint environment. Responsible gun owners know where their guns are at all times, the administration stressed.

Penalties for bringing a firearm to a TSA checkpoint vary depending on the jurisdiction, however, in the Commonwealth of Virginia it is a criminal act to bring a firearm to the checkpoint.

Travelers who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA. The complete list of penalties is posted online.

In addition to civil penalties, individuals who violate rules regarding traveling with firearms will have Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheck expedited screening benefits revoked.

Even if a traveler has a concealed weapon permit, firearms are not permitted to be carried onto an airplane. However, TSA notes travelers with proper firearm permits can travel legally with their firearms in their checked bags if they are unloaded and packed in a locked hard-side case. The case with the firearm should be brought to the airline check-in counter to be declared with an airline representative.

Ammunition must be in its original box and can be packed inside the hard-side case, next to the firearm. Even if the box of ammunition is not full, the bullets must be in their original case.

Firearms are then transported in the belly of the aircraft so that nobody has access to them during the flight. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its web site.

TSA notes airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition, so travelers should also contact the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.

Firearm possession laws also vary by state and locality. TSA advises travelers to familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure to ensure that they have the proper gun permits for the states that they are traveling to and from.

Travelers can use the “What Can I Bring?” feature on the TSA website or on the free downloadable myTSA app. Travelers can also tweet to @AskTSA or send a text message (275-872) if they have a travel question or are unsure if an item is allowed through security in a carry-on bag.

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