TSA catches fifth gun in six days at the Pittsburgh International Airport checkpoint

TSA: “There is no excuse for trying to carry a gun onto a flight.”
Local Press Release
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
TSA officers stopped a Pennsylvania man from carrying this loaded handgun onto his flight on September 28. (TSA photo)

 PITTSBURGH, Pa. –Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Pittsburgh International Airport have now caught five guns in the last six days at the airport’s security checkpoint.

A TSA officer prevented a Farmington, Pa., man from bringing his 9mm handgun loaded with seven bullets onto his flight yesterday, Tuesday, September 28. This gun catch came on the heels of guns caught last Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

 In each instance when TSA officers spotted the guns in the checkpoint X-ray machine, they alerted Allegheny County Police who then confiscated the weapons. Additionally, each instance resulted in TSA forwarding the incident to be followed up with the issuance of a significant federal financial civil penalty.

“There is no excuse for a traveler who tries to carry a gun onto their flight,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “The vast majority of violators claim that they forgot that they had their loaded guns with them. That’s no excuse. Responsible gun owners know where their guns are at all times and they know the proper way to transport a handgun to their destination. The right way to pack a gun for a flight is readily available to the TSA web site and it is fairly simple. First of all the gun needs to be unloaded, which should be obvious. Second is to pack it in a locked hard-sided case. And finally, the case with the unloaded gun needs to be taken to the check-in counter. From there the airline will ensure the gun is transported safely, without any traveler access to the weapon during the flight. If you bring the gun to the checkpoint, you will be the recipient of a hefty fine from TSA.”

TSA reserves the right to issue a $3,000 to $13,910 civil penalty to travelers who bring weapons with them to 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 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







(As of 9-26-21)

Guns caught at PIT checkpoints






 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.