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

Local Press Release
Thursday, May 27, 2021
TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport stopped a man with this loaded handgun at the security checkpoint on May 27. (TSA photo)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. –  Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers prevented a Mercer County, Pennsylvania, man from carrying a .380 caliber handgun loaded with eight bullets including one in the chamber onto his flight this morning, May 27.

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

“Once again we’ve caught a traveler who claimed he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him and did not pack his gun properly for transporting it on his flight,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “I want to remind travelers that there may be a pandemic, but our officers remain vigilant about preventing weapons that pose a security threat from getting onto flights. If you bring a gun to our checkpoint, you will face a stiff federal financial civil penalty.”

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.