Despite low passengers, TSA catches record number of guns at Richmond airport in 2020

Despite low passengers, TSA catches record number of guns at Richmond airport in 2020
This handgun was detected by TSA officers in a passenger’s carry-on bag at Richmond International Airport on Dec. 31. (Source: TSA)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Despite a record low of people traveling through Richmond International Airport, Transportation Security Administration officials said they closed out 2020 by catching the highest number of guns in a single year.

A total of 22 guns were caught at the airport in 2020.

“When you consider that the passenger volume at Richmond was significantly lower in 2020 due to the pandemic, it is an extremely disappointing trend,” said Chuck Burke, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Richmond International Airport. “The TSA team here at Richmond International is strong and they are good at their jobs and focused on the mission. With fewer travelers in 2020, the expectation was that fewer firearms would be brought to the airport. But that didn’t happen.”

TSA officers caught a Midlothian woman on the last day of the year with a .40 caliber handgun loaded with four bullets. Officers found it in her carry-on bag as it went through the security checkpoint X-ray machine.

The TSA alerted police, confiscated the gun and cited the woman.

“Not carrying a gun on a plane is nothing new,” Burke said. “TSA has been in existence for 19 years but for decades preceding TSA there has been a regulation barring guns on a plane. Yet this year we saw an exorbitant amount of travelers attempting to do just that. The consequences are costly. TSA imposes stiff federal financial penalties when a gun is detected at the checkpoint. It’s a fine that goes into the thousands of dollars.”

Between 2015 and 2020, the second year with the highest number of guns confiscated was in 2017 where 18 were caught by TSA officers at Richmond airport.

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