NORFOLK, Va. - A Portsmouth man was arrested on weapons charges last week after being caught at a Norfolk International Airport security checkpoint with a handgun loaded with 15 bullets, including one in the chamber.
Transportation Security Administration officers detected the gun and alerted the Norfolk Airport Authority Police, who confiscated the weapon and took the man into custody. The TSA says that 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.
According to the TSA, anyone with a gun or gun parts with them at a checkpoint can be issued a civil penalty regardless of whether or not they have a concealed gun carry permit.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline's ticket counter. Guns are "absolutely" not permitted to be carried onto planes, the TSA said.
The TSA said that 10 firearms have been caught at Norfolk International Airport checkpoints in 2021. Last year, 12 firearms were caught, down from 15 in 2019.
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. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.