Handgun discovered in carry-on bag at Norfolk airport

Photo by James McKinney

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — TSA officers discovered a loaded handgun in the carry-on baggage of a man going through Norfolk International Airport’s security checkpoint late Wednesday evening.

The employee staffing the checkpoint X-ray machine spotted a .380 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun, loaded with five rounds and one chambered, according to Jim McKinney with the Transportation Security Administration.

The man who owned the bag and gun was stopped and then arrested by Norfolk Airport Authority Police, which confiscated the gun and ammunition. The man had a concealed weapons permit, but that doesn’t matter for air travel.

“No one is allowed to bring a loaded handgun, or even a handgun that is not loaded, through the checkpoint,” said Jeffrey Horowitz with the TSA. “There are exceptions, like law enforcement officers who have approval to travel.”

According to TSA numbers, the man stopped Wednesday night isn’t the only person unaware of that rule. Ten guns, both loaded and unloaded, and five stun guns were confiscated at Norfolk International Airport in 2012. In 2013, seven guns and 13 stun guns were confiscated.

“If you’re traveling with a handgun, and you want to bring it with you in checked baggage, you must declare it with the airline,” Horowitz said. “It must be in a hard-sided case. It must be locked with ammunition separate, in it’s own case.”

The man Wednesday night, who was flying to Charlotte, was allowed to catch his flight without the weapon, McKinney said.

Passengers who are unsure whether an item is permitted or prohibited can check TSA’s website where there is a tool that allows people to type in an item to find out if it can be brought on board in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither. A free downloadable app, called “MyTSA” has the same feature.

Here’s a list of guns and other prohibited items discovered at Norfolk International Airport in 2013:

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