TSA caught two loaded guns at Pittsburgh International Airport security checkpoint on Thursday

One gun caught in the morning, second gun caught at night
Local Press Release
Friday, February 26, 2021
TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport stopped a woman with this loaded handgun at the security checkpoint on Feb. 25—the second gun caught at the airport that day. (TSA photo)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. –  Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught a loaded handgun inside a local woman’s purse at the security checkpoint last night, Thursday, Feb.  25, the second gun they stopped from being carried onto an airplane yesterday. The first gun they caught yesterday was detected about 12 hours earlier, during the peak morning travel period.

It marked the fifth and sixth guns caught by TSA officers so far this month, increasing the total number to seven caught so far this year.

TSA officers at the airport detected 21 guns at the airport’s checkpoints last year and now, in less than two months of 2021, the officers have caught seven guns—one third of the number caught during all 12 months of 2020.

The woman, a resident of nearby Monroeville, Pennsylvania, told officials that she forgot that she had her loaded gun in her purse.

“This traveler’s forgetfulness was a careless mistake that will hit her wallet because, like everyone who brings a gun to the checkpoint, she now faces a stiff federal financial civil penalty that could cost her thousands of dollars,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “If you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times.”

When the TSA officer spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Allegheny County police were notified and confiscated the gun.

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.

 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.