TSA stops Butler County, PA, man with loaded handgun at Pittsburgh International Airport security checkpoint

Local Press Release
Thursday, April 1, 2021
TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport stopped a man with this loaded handgun at the security checkpoint on April 1. (TSA photo)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. –  Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught a Butler County, Pennsylvania, man with a .45 caliber handgun loaded with five bullets at the security checkpoint this morning, Thursday, April 1.

It was the 10th handgun stopped by TSA officers at the airport so far this year.

When the TSA officer spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Allegheny County Police were alerted, came to the checkpoint, questioned the man and confiscated the gun.

The man, a resident of Cranberry, Pennsylvania, had the gun in his backpack. He now faces a federal financial civil penalty for bringing a gun to the checkpoint.

“It may be April 1st, but bringing a gun to the checkpoint is nothing to joke about,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “It’s important to understand that even if someone has a concealed carry permit, they are not permitted to carry it onto an airplane. The county police might not arrest someone with a concealed carry permit, but that’s certainly not going to stop TSA from issuing a stiff federal civil penalty to someone who tries to carry a gun onto an airplane. That could cost someone thousands of dollars.”

Travelers are not permitted to carry their guns onto airplanes, however, passengers are permitted to transport their firearms as checked baggage if they are properly packed and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane. 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. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on 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.