Roanoke man cited after loaded gun found in carry-on at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport, TSA says

Roanoke Valley News

(Photo: Courtesy Transportation Security Administration)

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – A Roanoke man was cited after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped him from carrying a loaded handgun onto a plane at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport over the weekend.

According to the TSA, the .45 caliber handgun — which was loaded with six bullets — was detected in the man’s carry-on bag on Saturday, Oct. 2.

TSA officials notified airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon, and cited the man on weapons charges.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

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. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. Guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.

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 approximately 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 percent were loaded.

Lisa Farbstein, spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration

This marks the third firearm caught by TSA at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport, including the 9mm handgun detected in an Alleghany County man’s carry-on in late July and the 9mm handgun detected in a Roanoke woman’s carry-on in mid August.

Last year, the TSA only caught one firearm at its checkpoint at the Roanoke airport, but there were significantly fewer passengers due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, in 2019, there were five firearms caught at the checkpoint.

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