PITTSBURGH – A West Virginia woman was stopped by Transportation Security Administration officers at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) on Wednesday, March 27, when they detected a loaded handgun in her backpack.
The Monongalia County, West Virginia, resident was stopped at the checkpoint with a 9mm handgun that was loaded with seven bullets, including one in the chamber. It marked the seventh gun stopped at the checkpoint so far this calendar year. In 2018, TSA officers at PIT caught 34 firearms at the checkpoint.
TSA contacted the Allegheny County Police, who responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the firearm and detained the Maidsville, West Virginia, woman for questioning.
In total, 4,239 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country last year, averaging about 11.6 firearms per day, approximately a 7 percent increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 3,957 detected in 2017. Eighty-six percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded and nearly 34 percent had a bullet in the chamber.
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When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. With the busy travel season in full swing, guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.
As a reminder, individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed carry permits are not allowed to bring guns past TSA checkpoints. In addition, TSA has the authority to access civil penalties of up to $13,000. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $3,900. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
TSA’s website has details on how to properly travel with a firearm. Airlines may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies.