Police arrest man caught with handgun at Roanoke airport

This loaded handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at...
This loaded handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport July 26.(Transportation Security Administration)
Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 2:55 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ/TSA Release) - An Alleghany County man was arrested at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport Monday after he was allegedly caught by the Transportation Security Administration carrying a 9mm handgun. The handgun was loaded with 16 bullets, including one in the chamber, according to the TSA.

TSA officials report they found the gun in the man’s carry-on bag before he got on a plane. They alerted airport police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and arrested the man. His name has not been released.

TSA says passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at airline ticket counters. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked and packed separately from ammunition. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Travelers should also contact their airlines, per the TSA, as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

In a release, TSA says it “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 a person 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, according to TSA.

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 because of the pandemic. The result, says TSA, was twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019.

In 2020, TSA caught about ten 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.

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