RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With a little more than two months remaining in the year and a significant decrease in air travel since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers have already caught more guns at Richmond International Airport (RIC) security checkpoints than in 2019.
According to a Monday release, TSA officers caught the 16th gun of the year on Sunday, Oct. 25. Officials say the man involved had an unloaded 9mm handgun and a magazine with 16 bullets in his carry-on.
“Guns are prohibited in the cabins of airplanes. It’s nothing new. It is a law that has been in place long before TSA even existed,” TSA’s Federal Security Director for RIC Chuck Burke said. “When you factor in that the pandemic has resulted in passenger volume in the neighborhood of 60% lower than this time in 2019, it is extremely disturbing to see more passengers carrying guns with them. When caught with a firearm, most travelers claim that they forgot that they had their gun with them. Quite frankly, that’s not an acceptable excuse. That’s just carelessness. This individual now faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty.”
The man, an Arizona resident, has been cited and issued two summons for him to appear in court.
Authorities say passengers may transport their firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at the airline check-in counter. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a locked, hard-sided case, and packed separately from ammunition.
Passengers who do not comply could be issued a civil penalty by TSA, resulting in a fine of up to $13,669 for a first offense, depending on any mitigating circumstances. According to a release, this applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because such licensure does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane.
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