TSA intercepts firearm at Pittsburgh International Airport on busiest day in TSA history

Local Press Release
Monday, July 8, 2024
TSA officers at Pittsburgh International Airport detected this firearm at the checkpoint on July 7. (TSA photo)

PITTSBURGH – Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Pittsburgh International Airport stopped a local man from carrying his 9mm handgun through the busy airport checkpoint on the busiest checkpoint throughput day in TSA’s 22-year history when more than 3 million travelers were screened for the very first time. The gun was not loaded.

The firearm was in the man’s bag and when TSA officers detected the gun they contacted the police, who reported to the checkpoint and and took possession of the firearm. 

“This was a rare instance in which the man had his unloaded firearm in a locked hard-sided case as he was supposed to do, and when he brought it to the airline check-in counter to declare he wanted to fly with it,. Instead, the man took the case to the checkpoint,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “The man was permitted to properly check the firearm for transport as checked baggage. However, when our officers detect a firearm at a checkpoint, it delays the passengers in that lane until the situation is resolved.”

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a weapon into a checkpoint can reach up to $15,000, depending on the specific weapon and the 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. This also applies to travelers who are enrolled in the TSA PreCheck® program, who will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges if they bring a gun to a checkpoint.  

The complete list of civil penalties is posted online

When a gun is detected in the checkpoint X-ray unit, the conveyor belt is stopped and the police are notified. Police remove the carry-on bag from the X-ray unit because TSA does not want its officers handling firearms. Police determine whether a traveler is arrested or issued a criminal citation. Meanwhile the remaining passengers in the checkpoint lane either wait for the issue to be resolved or they are shifted to another checkpoint lane, thus delaying dozens of passengers from getting to their gates.

TSA firearms catches at airport checkpoints at Pittsburgh International Airport, 2017 to 2024










(as of 7/7/24)

Pittsburgh International Airport









Last year, a record 6,737 firearms were caught at checkpoints nationwide and Pittsburgh was part of that disturbing trend.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither? Download the free myTSA app, which has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that allows you to type in the item to find out if it can fly. Or ask on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA. Travelers may send a question by texting “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).