TSA stops Pennsylvania man from bringing handgun onto his flight at Pittsburgh Airport 22nd gun caught in 2021 surpasses the number caught in 2020

Local Press Release
Wednesday, September 15, 2021

PITTSBURGH, Pa. –Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped a Butler, Pennsylvania, resident from bringing his 9mm handgun onto a flight at Pittsburgh International Airport yesterday (Wednesday, Sept. 14), marking the 22nd gun caught at the checkpoint this year, which surpassed the 21 guns detected at the airport checkpoint last year. 

When TSA officers spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, they alerted Allegheny County Police who then confiscated the unloaded weapon and temporarily detained the man for questioning.

“I’ll say this as clearly and directly as possible. Firearms are not permitted to be carried through a TSA security checkpoint. Period,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “It doesn’t matter if you have a concealed carry permit. A permit does not give you permission to bring a gun or any other weapon onto an airplane. That’s why TSA was created—to prevent anyone from bringing a weapon onto a plane that could possibly result in a security threat to the well-being of the passengers, crew and aircraft. In addition, people who bring their guns to TSA checkpoints face a federal financial civil penalty that can cost them thousands of dollars.”

TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport prevented a man from carrying this handgun onto his flight on September 14.
TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport prevented a man from carrying this handgun onto his flight on September 14. (TSA photo)

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.