NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The number of travelers who attempted to bring guns on planes at Norfolk International Airport doubled in 2015 over the two previous years.
Officials tell WAVY.com they seized 16 guns in 2015 and seven in both 2013 and 2014.
The Transportation Safety Administration does not have an explanation for the increase, but they say it’s an “alarming trend” nationwide.
“You can get cited. You can be arrested. TSA can also issue a civil citation up to $11,000,” said Lisa Farbstein, TSA spokesperson. “The first offense is usually $3,000.”
Farbstein says 2,212 firearms were brought to checkpoints in 2014, and while the final numbers nationwide have not been calculated, she says the number is even higher in 2015.
Farbstein says the biggest excuse from passengers is that they forgot they had their firearms on their person or in their carry-on, both of which are illegal.
Loula Brox, a gun owner from Chesapeake, understands the excuse.
“It’s part of them,” said Brox. “They feel like they have a right to bear arms, to carry arms and they’ve probably been trained so they’re comfortable having a gun on them.”
The spike in people attempting to bring their firearms on board is concerning for local travelers.
“The fact that people are trying to bring them on the plane is really kind of scary, it’s freaky, especially with all the stuff that’s been happening,” said John Barnes.
Jeffrey Horowitz, TSA Assistant Federal Security Director at Norfolk International Airport, stated, “TSA advises travelers to familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure to ensure that they have the proper gun permits for the states that they are traveling to and from. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition so travelers should also contact the airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies prior to arriving at the airport.”
The TSA recommends taking the following steps before arriving at the airport with your gun.
- Unload your weapon
- Store in a hard-sided case
- Place ammunition in its original box adjacent to firearm
- Ensure case is locked
- Obtain gun permits for the state you are departing and arriving
- File a firearm declaration sheet with airline
- Take a gun case to check-in counter and place in a checked bag; never in a carry-on
- Check with airline for special restrictions