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

Local Press Release
Monday, April 12, 2021
TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport stopped a woman with this loaded handgun at the security checkpoint on April 12. (TSA photo)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. –  Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught a Butler County, Pennsylvania, woman with a .380 caliber handgun loaded with six bullets at the security checkpoint early this morning, Monday, April 12.

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 woman and confiscated the gun.

The woman, a resident of Sarver, Pennsylvania, had the gun in her purse. She now faces a federal financial civil penalty for bringing a gun to the checkpoint.

“It is mid-way through the fourth month of the year and already we have caught more than half the number of guns we caught during all 12 months of 2020,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Let me say it very simply. Do not bring your gun to an airport security checkpoint. Even if you have a concealed carry permit, you are not permitted to carry it onto an airplane. If you want to travel with it, you must pack it properly so that it can be transported as checked baggage. If you do bring your gun to our checkpoint, you will face a stiff federal civil penalty that could cost you 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.