TSA stops local man from bringing loaded gun onto his flight at Pittsburgh Airport 21st gun caught in 2021 ties the number caught in 2020

Local Press Release
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport prevented a local man from carrying this loaded handgun onto his flight on Friday, September 10. (TSA photo)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. –Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped a Pittsburgh resident from bringing his loaded .42 caliber handgun onto a flight at Pittsburgh International Airport on Friday, Sept. 10, one day before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It marked the 21st gun caught so far this year, tying the number caught in 2020.

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 man for questioning before citing him and issuing him a summons to appear in court.

“The 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been in the news cycle for two solid weeks, and yet here a traveler brought a loaded gun to our checkpoint a day before that solemn date,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “I find it interesting that so many individuals are not aware that TSA was created as a result of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. We are here to ensure that another 9/11 does not take place. We’re doing our job. What we need is for travelers to do their part and not bring weapons to the airport checkpoint. If you want to transport your gun, it needs to be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided case and brought to the airline check-in counter to be declared and transported in the belly of the plane with the checked baggage. People who bring their guns to TSA checkpoints face a federal financial civil penalty that will hit them hard in the wallet.”

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.