TSA found more guns at Va. airport checkpoints in 2018

TSA officials found this loaded gun at BWI Marshall Airport. (Courtesy TSA)
TSA officials found this loaded gun at BWI Marshall Airport in August. (Courtesy TSA) (Courtesy TSA)
TSA officials found this loaded gun at Norfolk International Airport. (Courtesy TSA/Lisa Farbstein)
TSA officials found this loaded gun at Norfolk International Airport in August. (Courtesy TSA/Lisa Farbstein) (Courtesy TSA/Lisa Farbstein)
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TSA officials found this loaded gun at BWI Marshall Airport. (Courtesy TSA)
TSA officials found this loaded gun at Norfolk International Airport. (Courtesy TSA/Lisa Farbstein)

WASHINGTON — Even more firearms were detected in carry-on bags at U.S. airport checkpoints last year. Closer to home, it’s a study in contrasts.

The Transportation Security Administration reported Thursday that nationwide, the number of firearms catches went up from 3,957 in 2017 to 4,239 in 2018. Of those firearms detected, 86 percent were loaded, and nearly 34 percent had a bullet in the chamber.

That nationwide figure has been increasing each year. According to the TSA, there were only 926 catches back in 2008.

In Maryland, firearms catches were slightly down, with 23 catches in 2018 between BWI Marshall Airport (22) and Salisbury Municipal Airport (1). The year before, the state’s total was 26.

In Virginia, that number climbed from 71 in the commonwealth’s eight airports to 82 during the same period. Virginia’s airports outpaced the trend nationally. (It’s an increase of about 15.5 percent, compared with the increase of just over 7 percent nationwide.)

The local breakdown over the last few years:

Airport 2016 2017 2018
Maryland
BWI Marshall Airport 24 26 22
Salisbury Municipal Airport 0 0 1
Maryland Total 25 26 23
Virginia
Norfolk International Airport 14 10 21
Dulles International Airport 24 19 17
Reagan National Airport 19 13 16
Richmond International Airport 10 18 14
Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport 6 3 6
Charlottesville-Albemarle Regional Airport 0 4 4
Lynchburg Regional Airport 3 2 2
Newport News-Williamsburg Regional Airport 3 2 2
Virginia Total 79 71 82

The most violations nationwide occurred at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (298). Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (219) and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (129) followed.

Travelers face not only criminal but also civil charges if they bring guns to an airport checkpoint. However, owners with proper permits can travel legally with guns in checked bags if they follow some guidelines.

Gun-possession laws vary, and the TSA reminds gun-owning travelers that before they depart, they should be familiar with the laws at each place to which they’re traveling. They should also be aware of any additional requirements that their airline(s) might have.

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