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TSA: Packing heat on board can land you in jail

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The Transportation Safety Administration is putting passengers on notice: show up to an airport checkpoint with a gun, and you can be arrested or fined thousands of dollars. The reminder comes after another flyer tried to board a flight with a firearm, this time at Reagan International Airport on Monday. Now TSA is warning passengers flying out of Richmond.

This year, there have been four guns recovered at Richmond's airport, and six at Norfolk's. Now, TSA wants gun owners to know they are permitted to fly with a firearm, but must fill out a form for the airline before they can set foot on a plane.

"There's a right way to travel with a firearm and a wrong way. Someone thought it would be a good idea to put it in their golf bag? That's the wrong way," Lisa Farbstein with TSA explained.

She said all guns must be unloaded and properly secured.

"The firearm case must be hard sided. Sometimes people have soft sided cases. That's not the way you travel with it," she said.

The case must be locked and checked at the airline counter. Your gun can never show up with you at the security gate, but TSA agents say it is happening far too often and there's one excuse they routinely hear.

"The vast majority of passengers tell us they forgot they had the firearm with them. 'I forgot it was there.' 'I forgot I had it in my bag,'" Farbstein added.

Agents don't have much sympathy for that reason. Farbstein says the weight of the firearm should always be an indicator.

"If you're the owner of a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times," she said.

When a gun is discovered at a checkpoint, a police officer shows up and decides whether to arrest the passenger. TSA can also issue a fine up to $11,000.

It's also important to know the laws of the state you're traveling from and to.

"Every jurisdiction has different rules," Farbstein said.

TSA says it's also a good idea to leave toy guns in your checked luggage. Even a fake gun is not permitted on board because TSA says it can scare other passengers who think it's the real thing.

Last year, federal agents confiscated 1,813 guns at TSA checkpoints. That's compared to 976 guns in 2009.

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