TSA NEWS RELEASE: ROANOKE, Va.—Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped a Roanoke County man with a loaded handgun in his carry-on bag yesterday (Sept. 14), just one day after they caught a Pulaski County, Va., woman with a loaded gun in her carry-on bag.

Wednesday’s catch of a loaded 9mm gun marks the seventh gun detected by TSA at theRoanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport so far this year. This is the highest number of guns caught at the airport in a single calendar year with three months remaining in 2022.

The TSA officer who was staffing the checkpoint X-ray monitor on Wednesday spotted the weapon among the man’s carry-on items as they entered the checkpoint X-ray machine. TSA alerted the police who confiscated the handgun and cited the now detained traveler on a weapons charge. The man told officials that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him.

The Vinton, Va., man now faces a stiff federal financial civil citation for bringing a loaded gun to a security checkpoint.

“Firearms are not allowed at a security checkpoint at any airport,” said Robin “Chuck” Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “We are proud of our officers for ensuring prohibited items are not making it through checkpoints. We much prefer that travelers adhere to checkpoint protocols and either pack their firearms properly and declare them or leave them at home.”

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 becauseTSA 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. Possession of a concealed carry permit isn’t permission to carry a firearm 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.

Firearms caught by TSA officers at the ROA Airport checkpoint, 2016 to 2022

Year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022

(As of 9/14/22)

Guns caught at ROA checkpoint 6 3 6 5 1 5 7

Last year TSA officers detected 5,972 guns at security checkpoints nationwide and 86 percent of them were loaded.