RICHMOND — A Hampton man was cited by police after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Richmond International Airport caught him with a handgun in his carry-on bag Wednesday, Dec. 28.
The .380 caliber handgun was loaded with seven bullets, including one in the chamber, TSA said.
Officers stopped the man when his carry-on bag triggered an alarm in the security checkpoint X-ray unit, TSA said. Upon spotting the weapon, TSA alerted airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun, and cited the man on weapons violations.
“Today’s gun catch was the 24th that our officers have prevented from being carried onto a flight this year,” said Robin “Chuck” Burke, TSA Federal Security Director for the airport. “It is the most firearms that have been brought to our checkpoints in a single year and with just a few days left in the calendar year, I hope it is the last we see for a long time. Our officers are good at their jobs and remain vigilant during the holiday season and beyond. Guns are not permitted through a security checkpoint. This applies to travelers with concealed carry permits as well as individuals who are enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program. The financial penalty for bringing a gun or other weapon to a security checkpoint recently increased to $15,000. It’s a very expensive mistake to make.”
TSA said it reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns with them at a checkpoint. A complete list of civil penalties is posted online.
Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on bags at checkpoints in 2021. Of those, about 86% were loaded. TSA said it has already surpassed that figure and expects to detect approximately 6,600 firearms at security checkpoints across the country by the end of 2022 — a new record.
According to TSA, passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided locked case, and packed separately from ammunition. The locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA provides details on how to properly travel with a firearm on its website.
TSA adds as firearm possession laws vary by state and locality, passengers should familiarize themselves with the local laws to make sure that they are not in violation. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition, TSA said.