NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped 98 handguns at airport security checkpoints in Virginia in 2021, 23 of which came from Norfolk International Airport.

Virginia airports also set a new record and a huge jump from the 55 guns caught in 2020. All of the firearms were discovered during the routine screening of carry-on property.

The TSA team at Washington Dulles International Airport also saw a huge spike in the number of guns caught in 2021 when 19 were detected compared to only seven in 2020.

Norfolk International Airport also saw nearly double the number of guns detected in 2021 with 23 firearms caught compared to 12 that were stopped at checkpoints in 2020.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms at airport security checkpoints in 2021. It was a significant increase from the 3,257 detected the previous year and a spike from the 4,432 detected in 2019 (pre pandemic).

Travelers who bring firearms to the checkpoint could face criminal charges and civil penalties up to $13,900 from TSA. The complete list of penalties is posted online.

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.

Remember this guidance when traveling with a firearm:

  • 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.
  • Even if the box of ammunition is not full, the bullets must be in their original case.
  • Then the case with the firearm should be brought to the airline check-in counter and the airline representative informed that the passenger wants to travel with the gun.
  • Firearms are transported inside checked baggage and are placed in the belly of the aircraft so that nobody has access to them during the flight.
  • TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its web site.