loaded handgun at Richmond Airport

This loaded handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Richmond International Airport Sept. 3. 

Transportation Security Administration officers stopped a Warrenton man from carrying a .380 caliber handgun onto an airplane at Richmond International Airport on Thursday, Sept. 3. The gun was loaded with six bullets; the man was also carrying an additional magazine with six more bullets, according to a TSA press release.

It is the 13th time a gun has been detected at the Richmond airport this year, said the release.

TSA officials said they detected the gun in the man’s carry-on bag. They immediately alerted the airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and detained the man for questioning before issuing him a summons, according to the press release. The identity of the man has not been released.

Chuck Burke, TSA’s federal security director for Richmond International Airport, said, “Guns are prohibited in the cabins of airplanes. It’s nothing new. It is a law that has been in place long before TSA even existed.” He added, “Our officers have caught 13 guns so far this year, compared to 14 during all 12 months of 2019. Considering the fact that there are about 75 to 80 percent fewer passengers flying due to the pandemic, it’s not a pretty picture. Actually, it is an extremely disturbing trend.”

The press release explained that TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns with them at a checkpoint. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100 and can go as high as $13,669, depending on any mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits; 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.

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, said the release.

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