Tuesday, February 7, 2023

TSA: Record Number of Guns Caught at Virginia Airport Checkpoints in 2022

This loaded handgun was detected by TSA officers at Richmond International Airport in December. (TSA photo)

WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said officers stopped 118 handguns at Virginia airport security checkpoints in 2022, a new record and a 20% increase from 2021.

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

(Transportation Security Administration)

The new record reflects a national trend, as TSA officers detected 6,542 firearms at 262 airport security checkpoints in 2022, a significant increase from the 5,972 detected in 2021 and the 4,432 detected in 2019.

Of the firearms caught in 2022, TSA said approximately 88% were loaded.

(Transportation Security Administration)

TSA notes travelers who bring firearms to checkpoints are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA of up to $15,000. A complete list of penalties is posted online. In addition to civil penalties, violators will have their Trusted Traveler status and TSA PreCheck expedited screening benefits revoked.

Even with a concealed weapon permit, firearms are not permitted to be carried onto airplanes. However, those with proper permits may travel legally with their firearms in their checked bags, as they are transported in the belly of the aircraft and cannot be accessed during flight.

Firearms in checked baggage must be unloaded and packed in a locked, hard-side case. Ammunition must be in its original box, even if the box is not full, and cpacked inside the hard-side case next to the firearm. The case should be brought to the airline check-in counter and declared with an airline representative.

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its web site.

(Transportation Security Administration)

TSA reminds passengers that firearm possession laws vary by state and locality, and advises travelers to familiarize themselves with state and local laws for each point of travel prior to departure to ensure that they have the proper permits.

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

Travelers can use the “What Can I Bring?” feature on the TSA website or on the free downloadable myTSA app, 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. Travelers can snap pictures or send a question and get real-time assistance.

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