PITTSBURGH – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught a West Virginia man with a 9 mm handgun loaded with seven bullets in his backpack at Pittsburgh International Airport on Tuesday, Sept. 8.
It was the third gun caught in a week at the airport. TSA officers caught a traveler with a gun on Wednesday, Sept. 2 and another with a loaded gun on Friday, Sept. 4.
A TSA officer spotted Tuesday’s handgun on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor. TSA immediately alerted the Allegheny County Police, which responded to the checkpoint, and questioned the man, a resident of Buckhannon, West Virginia, in Upshur County. Police confiscated the gun and cited the man on weapons charges. In addition, the man is facing stiff Federal civil penalties.
TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns with them at a checkpoint. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100 and can go as high as $13,669 depending on any mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck™, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck™ privileges.
When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. Guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.
TSA Firearms Caught at the Pittsburgh International Airport checkpoint, 2017 to 2020
(As of 9-8-20)
Nationwide last year, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018. Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. Firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.