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Man Arrested by Police After TSA Stops Him With Loaded Gun at Pittsburgh International Airport

A Warren County, Pa., man was arrested by police after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers intercepted the man’s loaded handgun at Pittsburgh International Airport on Feb. 20.

The man, a resident of Warren, Pa., was caught with a 9 mm caliber handgun loaded with 15 bullets among his carry-on items. He was not in possession of a valid permit to carry a firearm.

The good catch by TSA officers brings the total number of guns caught at the airport’s checkpoints to five so far in the first eight weeks of the new year.

“Last year we set a record when our officers prevented 44 guns from getting past our checkpoints,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “We are hoping to see fewer travelers bring their guns to our checkpoints this year. Responsible gun owners know not to bring their guns to a checkpoint because they cannot carry them into the cabin of a plane. This individual carelessly introduced an unnecessary risk into the airport environment and as a result he will face a stiff Federal financial penalty that will likely cost him thousands of dollars.”

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms only in checked baggage if they are unloaded and packed in a hard-sided locked case. Then the locked case should be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. 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

Year 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024

(as of 2/20/24)

Pittsburgh International Airport 32  34 35  21 32 26 44 5

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.

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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