A man was stopped at Pittsburgh International Airport after Transportation Security Administration officers caught him with a .380 caliber handgun loaded with five bullets, including one in the chamber on February 25.
The gun was detected by a TSA officer in the man’s jacket pocket. He placed his jacket in a checkpoint bin and it was spotted on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor. TSA contacted the Allegheny County Police, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the handgun and detained the man for questioning prior to releasing him.
The man, a resident of Mars, Pennsylvania, told officials that he forgot that he had his loaded gun with him in his jacket pocket, even though it was just inches from his hand. “I forgot” is the most common excuse that TSA hears when someone is caught with a gun at the airport checkpoint.
When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident.
In 2019, the Pittsburgh International Airport checkpoint caught 35 firearms. In 2020, the number currently stands at five.
Nationwide last year, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging about 12.1 firearms per day, approximately a 5% increase nationally in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 detected in 2018. Eighty-seven percent of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded.
TSA reminds travelers that individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from law enforcement. Even travelers with concealed firearm permits are not allowed to bring guns onto airplanes in their carry-on bags. If you’re a TSA Pre✓® member, then you could even lose your status. A typical first offense for carrying a handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100. The complete list of penalties is posted online.
TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website. Travelers should also contact their airline regarding firearm and ammunition carriage policies as they may have additional requirements.