TSA officers catch 18th gun this year at Richmond International Airport security checkpoint

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers have caught 18 guns at Richmond International Airport security checkpoints in 2020, up from 14 last year.

According to a Monday release, a Virginia man’s honeymoon got off on the wrong foot when he was arrested by police after TSA detected a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag on Nov. 14.

The TSA officer spotted the 9 mm handgun loaded with eight bullets, including one in the chamber, as the Dinwiddie County man’s belongings entered the security checkpoint X-ray machine.

““When you’re packing for a flight, my advice is to make sure that your baggage is empty when you start to pack to ensure that there is nothing prohibited in it,” TSA’s Federal Security Director for Richmond International Airport Chuck Burke said.

TSA alerted airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun, and arrested the man, who was reportedly ticketed to fly to Hawaii for his honeymoon with his wife. Officials say he claimed that he forgot he had the gun with him.

“If you own a firearm, you really do need to know where it is at all times,” TSA Spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said. “If you think that you’re carrying a firearm for self-defense and you don’t even realize you have it with you, what good is that?”

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns with them at a checkpoint. According to a release, a typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100 and can go as high as $13,669. This applies to traveler with or without concealed gun carry permits because such permits do not all for firearms to be carried onto an airplane.

With a significant decrease in air travelers this year amid the coronavirus pandemic and more than one month left in the year, TSA officers at Richmond International Airport have caught more guns at security checkpoints than in 2016, 2018, or 2019.

“TSA has been in existence since shortly after 9/11, and it’s not like this is a new rule or regulation since TSA came into existence,” Farbstein said. “You haven’t been able to bring a firearm into the cabin of a plane for several decades before TSA even existed, so again, this is nothing new.”

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