ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — For the third time this year, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport caught someone trying to bring a gun — more specifically, a Roanoke man trying to bring a loaded handgun — onto a flight.

According to the TSA, the .380 caliber handgun was loaded with five bullets, but a TSA officer spotted the weapon and ammo as they entered the security checkpoint’s X-ray machine on Wednesday, April 27.

Officials say the TSA alerted the police, who confiscated the gun and cited the man on weapons charges. He also faces a federal financial civil citation.

“It’s late April and already our officers have detected three guns in carry-on bags this year,” said Robin “Chuck” Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. Guns on their person or accessible in their carry-on property are illegal and when detected at the screening checkpoint will result in a significant fine and potential criminal charges filed on the passenger. Security checkpoints and weapons don’t mix.”

According to authorities, TSA officers detected 5,972 guns — 86% of which were loaded — at security checkpoints nationwide last year.

At the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport, the TSA says officers caught five guns in 2021, compared to one in 2020.

To transport a gun, it must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided locked case, and packed separately from ammunition. Then the locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Lisa Farbstein, spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration