RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the United States is on track to break records when it comes to the number of firearms seized at airport checkpoints this year.
Last year, the agency confiscated 6,542 firearms, and so far this year, TSA has already intercepted 5,072.
However, the number of firearms seized locally at Richmond International Airport (RIC) is breaking the curve and trending downwards, according to RIC’s Police Chief Tanika Brown.
Brown said the signage they have throughout the airport and the announcements over the speakers help remind passengers when they come through.
“We’re actually fortunate here at RIC Airport, where our numbers have decreased for the year at this point. Last year, we had about 24, which this year, we are at 12 guns that were found at the checkpoints,” Brown said.
However, just two weeks ago, a man was caught by TSA trying to bring his handgun onto a flight in Richmond. He now faces a weapons charge and a financial civil penalty for trying to go through the security checkpoint with it.
The financial penalties can be as high as $15,000, depending on the circumstances.
“The number one excuse we get when people come through and we detect a firearm in their carry-on bag is that they forgot the firearm is in there,” Dan Velez, a TSA spokesperson, said.
Across the country in this last quarter, the TSA said they confiscated about 19.8 firearms per day, and about 94 percent of them were loaded.
Velez reminds passengers that they can travel with a firearm, but they just have to make sure they’re doing so properly.
“You can’t have the firearm in your carry-on bag, it has to be checked. And there’s proper procedures that you have to follow. To travel with your firearm, it’s pretty much prepare, pack and declare,” Velez explained.
Travelers can prepare by transporting their firearms in the right bag, packing the firearm and ammunition separately, and declaring to the airline that they have a firearm. The TSA has more information about traveling with firearms.
Brown hopes that people will listen to the warnings before heading out to the airport.
“As we approach the travel season, just always take that extra second to check your bag and to make sure that you know you’re able to travel safely to your destination without any hiccups,” Brown said.