A Williamsburg, Virginia, man was issued a summons by police at Richmond International Airport on February 1, after a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer spotted a .380 caliber handgun loaded with nine bullets, including one in the chamber, in the traveler’s carry-on bag. In addition, the man was in possession of a magazine loaded with eight more bullets.
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.
Meanwhile, A Fairfax County, Virginia, man was cited by the police after a TSA officer caught the man with a .380 caliber handgun loaded with six bullets in his carry-on bag at a Washington Dulles International Airport checkpoint, also on February 1.
The Washington Dulles TSA officer who was staffing the security checkpoint spotted the handgun when it appeared on the X-ray monitor. TSA immediately contacted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police, who confiscated the handgun and detained the man, a resident of Centerville, Virginia, for questioning before citing him on a weapons charge.
Travelers who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA. Even if a traveler has a concealed weapon permit, firearms are not permitted to be carried onto an airplane in their carry-on bags.
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.
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 PreCheck member, that person could even lose their TSA PreCheck 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.