HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — As residents across the community prepare for their holiday getaways, the Transportation Security Administration is reminding people of one item that should not be in your carry-on bag.
On Thursday, Dec. 8, police cited a Chesterfield man after TSA officials found a loaded gun in his carry-on at Richmond International Airport. This marked the 21st gun confiscated at Richmond International Airport this year — a statistic already surpassing last year’s total.
Signage scatters the airport in an effort to remind people of regulations that restrict people from bringing weapons in carry-ons. However, instances of individuals bringing guns up to the security checkpoint at Richmond International Airport continue to occur. Lisa Farbstein with the TSA told 8News that the agency is disappointed in the heightened volume of these incidents this year.
“That’s not a record we want to set,” Farbstein said.
A whopping 5,972 guns were found at security check points last year — 86% of which were loaded. Farbstein anticipates increased airport traffic this time of the year, which could only continue to increase the risk of more of these offenses.
“We have a good portion of the year left,” Farbstein said. “It happens to be, you know, the next several weeks we’re going to see an increase in the number of passengers.”
While guns are prohibited as carry-ons, they can be checked. There are certain practices in place to ensure guns are checked into a flight properly. Weapons should be unloaded and locked in a hard-side container. A traveler must also declare the weapon at check-in, so it’s accounted for and can be properly handled and transported.
Farbstein said typically when an individual is caught with a firearm in a carry-on, that person will chalk it up to a bad memory.
“They seem to know where their keys are and their mobile phones, but not their deadly weapon,” Farbstein said.
Whether the incident was a mistake or not, the action comes with a hefty price tag. Regardless of the offender’s explanation, the action alone warrants a citation of at least $3,000. Police have jurisdiction over how the incident is handled. Therefore, repercussions could escalate depending on the individual’s history of trouble, behavior at the site and whether or not the gun was loaded. Police can choose to arrest the offender.
In terms of citations, TSA has raked in around $20 million so far this year solely from these types of offenses, which further highlights just how frequently this continues to happen despite efforts like increased signage, announcements and online warnings.
The TSA emphasized how protecting travelers is the goal and anyone who puts others at risks — whether intentional or not — is to be punished.
“A responsible gun owner knows where their firearm is at all times,” Farbstein said.
For a detailed breakdown of air travel regulations and packing guidelines, visit the TSA’s website.