Friday, January 27, 2023

TSA stops woman with a handgun at Norfolk International Airport

A woman was caught with this loaded handgun in her carry-on bag at a Norfolk International Airport checkpoint on March 18. (WYDaily/Courtesy of TSA)

NORFOLK — Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Norfolk International Airport stopped a 9mm handgun and two boxes of ammunition from getting through a security checkpoint on Thursday, March 18. It was the fourth gun caught at the checkpoint so far this year.

When the TSA officer detected the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Norfolk Airport Authority Police were alerted, responded to the checkpoint and confiscated the weapon from the Texas woman. The woman was arrested and the case was forwarded to the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney for possible criminal prosecution. The woman also faces a stiff Federal financial civil penalty for carrying a gun to a TSA checkpoint.

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because, even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane. Guns are absolutely not permitted to be carried onto planes. Checked firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm and ammunition posted on its website. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality so travelers should check firearm laws at their destinations before they decide to travel. Travelers should also contact their airline as it may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

TSA Firearms Caught at the Norfolk International Airport checkpoints, 2017 to 2021

Year 2017 2018 2019 2020* 2021*
Guns caught 10 21 15  12 4

*Significantly fewer passengers than previous years due to the pandemic.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019 due to the pandemic. The result was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019.  Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.

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