NORFOLK, Va. - A Virginia Beach man was caught trying to pass a loaded gun through security at Norfolk International Airport on Thursday.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught the man with a 9mm handgun loaded with seven bullets, including one in the chamber, at one of the airport security checkpoints on August 5.
This marks the third gun caught at the airport in just the last week. It was also the 12th gun stopped at the checkpoint so far this year, matching the 12 guns caught during 2020.
When the TSA officer detected the gun, Norfolk Airport Authority Police were alerted, confiscated the weapon and cited the man on weapons charges. The case was forwarded to the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney for possible criminal prosecution. The man also faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty.
TSA is reminding travelers it reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to individuals who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to people with or without concealed gun carry permits. The complete list of civil penalties is available here.
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 absolutely not permitted 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. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and travelers should check into firearm laws before they decide to travel with their guns. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.
TSA officers caught the following number of firearms at the Norfolk International Airport checkpoints between 2017 and 2021:
*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 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 about 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.