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TSA agents see less firearms in Virginia airports, goes against national average

Nationwide, 87 percent of firearms detected at TSA checkpoints last year were loaded.

WASHINGTON — Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped 74 handguns at the Virginia airport checkpoints in 2019. That's a decrease from the 82 caught in 2018.

Virginia’s decrease went against the national trend of an uptick in the number of firearms detected at airport checkpoints across the country.

Nationwide, TSA officers caught more firearms at checkpoints in 2019 than ever before in the agency’s 18-year history. In total, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags or on passengers at checkpoints across the country last year, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5 percent increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018.

Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.

The top five airports where TSA officers detected guns at checkpoints in 2019 were: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International with 323; Dallas/Fort Worth International with 217; Denver International with 140;  George Bush Houston Intercontinental with 138; and Phoenix Sky Harbor International with 132.

RELATED: Norfolk man arrested after loaded gun is found at Philadelphia airport checkpoint

RELATED: Man arrested after TSA catches him with loaded handgun at Richmond International Airport

In Virginia, Norfolk International Airport TSA agents stopped 15 guns. Washington Dulles International Airport had the most guns confiscated in 2019 with 19.

TSA said travelers who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to criminal charges from law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA. Even if a traveler has a concealed weapon permit, firearms are not permitted to be carried onto an airplane. However, travelers with proper firearm permits can travel legally with their firearms in their checked bags if they follow a few simple guidelines.

Individuals who bring weapons to a checkpoint are subject to federal civil penalties of up to $13,000. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100.

For more specific information on guns at airports and other unusual items that are brought to airports by travelers, click here.