Washington County woman stopped by TSA with loaded gun at the Pittsburgh International Airport checkpoint on Saturday

Local Press Release
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
TSA officers stopped a Pennsylvania woman from carrying this loaded handgun onto her flight on October 9. (TSA photo)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A Washington County, Pennsylvania, woman was caught with a loaded handgun by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) at the security checkpoint on Saturday, October 9.  It was the second gun caught in two days and the 29th gun TSA officers detected this year at the airport.

The woman had the gun inside her purse and laughed at the TSA officers when they pulled her bag aside with the gun inside. “Carrying a loaded gun to an airport is no laughing matter. Carrying a deadly weapon to a checkpoint is a serious matter,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “This traveler, like all individuals who bring guns to our checkpoint, now faces a stiff Federal financial penalty. She made a mistake and will now pay for it. Even if you have a concealed carry permit, you cannot bring your gun into the cabin of the plane.”

The handgun was a .380 caliber firearm loaded with 10 bullets, including one in the chamber. When the TSA officer spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Allegheny County Police were alerted and confiscated the weapon. TSA forwarded the incident to be followed up with the issuance of a federal financial civil penalty.

The U.S. States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania recently announced that in firearm incidents at the checkpoint that involve an individual who possesses a valid concealed carry permit, they will be requesting County Sheriffs to rescind that resident’s firearms concealed carry license due to negligence.

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 10-9-21)

Guns caught at PIT checkpoints






*Fewer travelers 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.