PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped two travelers with handguns just two days before Thanksgiving at the Pittsburgh International Airport security checkpoint on Tuesday, Nov. 24.
TSA officers spotted each handgun on the checkpoint X-ray monitors. TSA immediately alerted the Allegheny County Police, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapons and questioned the individuals. The incidents were not related.
The first gun caught was a .25 firearm loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber. It belonged to a woman who told officials that the gun belonged to her boyfriend. She claimed that she thought that she did not need a permit for the gun because she is a resident of Arkansas. Police confiscated the gun and arrested the woman.
In the second incident, TSA officers detected a 9mm handgun in a Bridgeport, West Virginia, man’s carry-on bag. It was not loaded. Police confiscated the firearm.
Each individual faces a stiff Federal civil penalty. TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts 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 11-29-20)
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.