The Transportation Security Administration said that it stopped 7 percent more firearms in 2018 than in 2017 nationwide, and found 82 guns overall at Virginia airport checkpoints last year, an increase from the 71 stopped in 2017.
According to Lisa Farbstein of the TSA, the increase in Virginia was mainly due to the more than doubling of firearms stopped at Norfolk International Airport, which caught 21 in 2018 and only 10 in 2017.
Virginia’s increase mirrored the national trend of an uptick in the number of firearms detected at airport checkpoints nationwide. In total, 4,239 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country last year, averaging about 11.6 firearms per day. In contrast, 3,957 firearms were detected in 2017.
Eighty-six percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded, and nearly 34 percent had a bullet in the chamber.
The top five airports where TSA officers detected guns at checkpoints in 2018 were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 298; Dallas/Fort Worth International with 219; Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 129; Denver International with 126 and Orlando International at 123.
In Virginia, Norfolk International led with 21; Washington Dulles International had 17; Ronald Reagan Washington National had 16; Richmond International had 14; Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional had four; Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional had four; Lynchburg Regional had two and Newport News-Williamsburg Regional had two.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are unloaded, packed in a hard-side case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Ammunition must be in its original box and can be packed inside the hard-side case, next to the firearm. Travelers who bring weapons to a checkpoint in their carry-ons are subject to federal civil penalties of up to $13,000.