TSA stops travelers from bringing loaded guns onto flights two days in a row at Pittsburgh Airport

Local Press Release
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport prevented a Pennsylvania man from carrying this loaded handgun onto his flight on Wednesday, September 8. (TSA photo)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Early this morning Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped a traveler from bringing his loaded gun onto a flight at Pittsburgh International Airport—the second time in two days that a gun has been caught at the checkpoint.

This morning’s handgun was a .40 caliber weapon loaded with six bullets that was detected in the carry-on bag of a Beaver, Pennsylvania, resident who told officials that he had the gun with him while he was hunting and forgot that he had it with him. The gun caught yesterday (Sept. 7) was in an Ohio man’s backpack.

When TSA officers spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, they alerted Allegheny County Police who then confiscated the weapon and temporarily detained the Pennsylvania man for questioning before citing him and issuing him a summons to appear in court.

“Two days in a row our officers have prevented loaded guns from being carried onto flights by individuals who didn’t realize that they had their loaded guns with them,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Responsible gun owners know where their firearms are at all times and don’t make these sorts of careless mistakes. Now each individual faces significant financial penalties from TSA that could cost them thousands of dollars.”

TSA reserves the right to issue a $3,000 to $13,910 civil penalty to travelers who have loaded 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 or aggravating 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.

Travelers are not permitted to carry their guns onto airplanes, however, passengers are allowed 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 with checked baggage. 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 Firearms Caught at the Pittsburgh International Airport checkpoints, 2017 to 2021







Guns caught at PIT checkpoints






*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.