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TSA prevents man from carrying loaded gun onto Richmond flight on 21st anniversary of 9/11 terrorist attacks

RICHMOND, Va. – A North Carolina resident was arrested by the police after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Richmond International Airport caught him with a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag yesterday (Sept. 11), on the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. The .45 caliber handgun was loaded with five bullets including one in the chamber.

TSA officers stopped the man when his carry-on bag triggered an alarm in the security checkpoint X-ray unit. Upon spotting the weapon, TSA alerted airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and arrested the man.  

“You would think that our nation’s high awareness of the happenings of September 11, 2001, would remind people that TSA is on the job to help ensure that another catastrophic incident does not happen again,” said Robin “Chuck” Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Especially on this solemn day, this traveler should have known better than to try to carry a firearm through our security checkpoint and onto a flight. Instead he was arrested and faces a stiff financial civil penalty.”

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns with them at a checkpoint. 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.

Guns caught at Richmond International Airport checkpoints from 2015 to 2022

Guns caught by year

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

(As of 9/11/22)

RIC Airport

6

10

18

14

14

22

20

14

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. Then the locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because 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. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms at airport security checkpoints nationwide in 2021. Eighty-six percent of those guns were loaded.

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