NORFOLK, Va. - A Hampton man was caught trying to bring a loaded handgun through airport security at Norfolk International Airport over the weekend.
After Transportation Security Administration officers detected the .45 caliber handgun with eight bullets on Sunday, they alerted Norfolk Airport Authority Police, who confiscated the weapon and arrested the man on weapons charges.
The case was forwarded to the Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney for possible criminal prosecution, and the man also faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty.
Civil penalties can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to individuals with or without concealed gun carry permits. The complete list of civil penalties is available here.
Airport officials are reminding people that passengers are allowed 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 not allowed 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.
Below is a list of firearms TSA officials have caught at Norfolk International checkpoints from 2017-2021:
- 2017: 10
- 2018: 21
- 2019: 15
- *2020: 12
- *2021: 9
*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 COVID-19 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% were loaded.