Loaded gun found in man’s carry-on bag 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 on October 2.(TSA-Transportation Security Administration)
Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 9:15 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ/TSA Release) - A Roanoke man was cited on weapons charges Saturday after a loaded gun was found in his carry-on bag at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. The handgun was loaded with six bullets.

Transportation Security Administration officials detected the gun in the man’s bag and alerted airport police, who confiscated the gun.

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter, according to TSA. Each firearm 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 airlines, which may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

According to a statement from TSA:

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.

According to TSA, three guns have been found at the Roanoke airport so far in 2021, following one in 2020, five in 2019, six in 2018 and three in 2017.

Nationwide, TSA officers found 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints in 2020, 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, according to TSA, was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, TSA caught about 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.

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