TSA catches fifth gun so far this month at Pittsburgh International Airport security checkpoint

Sixth loaded gun caught at the airport this year
Local Press Release
Thursday, February 25, 2021
TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport stopped a woman with this loaded handgun at the security checkpoint on Feb. 25. (TSA photo)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. –  Yet another traveler showed up at Pittsburgh International Airport with a gun this morning, marking the fifth gun caught by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers so far this month, an average of one gun every five days and the sixth gun caught so far this year.

“In 2020, our TSA officers detected 21 guns at the checkpoints here at Pittsburgh and so far in less than two full months of 2021 we’ve caught six guns. That is already nearly one third of the way to matching what was caught during all 12 months of the previous year,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “It’s inexcusable to bring a gun to a checkpoint. You will be caught. The police will be notified and you could be subject to criminal charges. Plus, I can assure you that these individuals will face stiff Federal financial civil penalties that can cost them thousands of dollars.”

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane. Guns are absolutely not permitted to be carried onto planes. Checked firearms must be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided case, locked, and packed separately from ammunition. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and travelers should check into firearm laws before they decide to travel with their guns. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Thursday morning’s gun catch took place when a TSA officer stopped a Texas with a .22 caliber handgun with a bullet in the chamber. The TSA officer spotted the gun on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor as the woman’s belongings were being screened. TSA immediately alerted the Allegheny County Police, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and questioned the woman.

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 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.

TSA Firearms Caught at the Pittsburgh International Airport checkpoint, 2017 to 2021







Guns caught






*Significantly fewer passengers than previous years due to the pandemic.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 3,257 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year, although the total number of passengers screened at airport checkpoints across the country fell by 500 million compared to 2019 due to the pandemic. The result was that twice as many firearms per million passengers screened were detected at checkpoints in 2020 compared to 2019. In 2020, TSA caught approximately 10 firearms per million passengers as compared to about five firearms per million passengers in 2019.  Of the guns caught by TSA in 2020, about 83 percent were loaded.