Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers caught two loaded firearms at Pittsburgh International Airport on February 25. These were the fifth and sixth guns detected by TSA officers in February alone. One firearm was detected at the checkpoint in January.
The first gun catch of the day took place when a TSA officer stopped a Texas woman with a .22 caliber handgun with a bullet in the chamber. The TSA officer spotted the gun on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor as the woman’s belongings were being screened. TSA immediately alerted the Allegheny County Police, which responded to the checkpoint, confiscated the weapon and questioned the woman.
Later that day, officers detected a firearm inside a local woman’s purse at the security checkpoint. She said she had forgotten it was in her purse.
“In 2020, our TSA officers detected 21 guns at the checkpoints here at Pittsburgh and so far in less than two full months of 2021 we’ve caught six guns. That is already nearly one third of the way to matching what was caught during all 12 months of the previous year,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport before the second gun was detected on February 25. “It’s inexcusable to bring a gun to a checkpoint. You will be caught. The police will be notified and you could be subject to criminal charges. Plus, I can assure you that these individuals will face stiff federal financial civil penalties that can cost them thousands of dollars.”
Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane. Guns are absolutely not permitted to be carried onto planes. 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.
TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100 and can go as high as $13,669 depending on any mitigating 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.