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Tuesday, September 28, 2021
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Weekly Update – TSA Firearm Detections Week 36

On September 8, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped a traveler from bringing his loaded gun onto a flight at Pittsburgh International Airport—the second time in two days that a gun has been caught at the checkpoint.

On September 8, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers stopped a traveler from bringing his loaded gun onto a flight at Pittsburgh International Airport—the second time in two days that a gun has been caught at the checkpoint.

The handgun was a .40 caliber weapon loaded with six bullets that was detected in the carry-on bag of a Beaver, Pennsylvania, resident who told officials that he had the gun with him while he was hunting and forgot that he had it with him. When TSA officers spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, they alerted Allegheny County Police who then confiscated the weapon and temporarily detained the Pennsylvania man for questioning before citing him and issuing him a summons to appear in court.

The gun caught on September 7 was in an Ohio man’s backpack and was loaded with seven bullets. Allegheny County Police confiscated the weapon and temporarily detained him for questioning.

“Two days in a row our officers have prevented loaded guns from being carried onto flights by individuals who didn’t realize that they had their loaded guns with them,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Responsible gun owners know where their firearms are at all times and don’t make these sorts of careless mistakes. Now each individual faces significant financial penalties from TSA that could cost them thousands of dollars.”

TSA may impose civil penalties of up to $13,910 per violation per person. A typical first offense for carrying a loaded handgun into a checkpoint is $4,100. 

Meanwhile, also on September 8, TSA officers at Dane County Regional Airport prevented a handgun from making its way onboard an airplane. During the routine screening of carry-on luggage, a TSA officer spotted the image of a handgun on the X-ray screen. The incident occurred around 5:40 a.m., and TSA officials immediately alerted the Dane County Sheriff’s Office. The firearm was loaded with a round chambered. The traveler, a Verona resident, had a concealed carry permit.

“Passengers who are traveling with firearms must follow the proper procedure,” Wisconsin TSA Federal Security Director Mark Lendvay said. “Pack the firearm in a locked, hard-sided case and check the bag. Guns are never allowed in carry-on luggage.”

TSA officers at Washington Dulles International Airport stopped a man from bringing a 9mm handgun loaded with nine bullets onto his flight on September 9, just two days before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the nation. TSA alerted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police who confiscated the gun and cited the man, a resident of Alabama, on weapons charges. He also faces a stiff federal financial penalty for carrying a gun to a TSA checkpoint.

“Twenty years ago American Airlines Flight 77 departed this very airport and was overtaken by terrorists who crashed the plane into the Pentagon,” said Scott T. Johnson, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “At this point in time, travelers should know by now that weapons are not permitted to be carried onto flights—not guns, not knives, not martial arts weapons, none of them. Our officers are good at their jobs and are dedicated to the mission of ensuring the safety and security of the traveling public.”

The same day, TSA officers prevented a local woman from carrying a .380 caliber handgun loaded with seven bullets, including one in the chamber, onto her flight at Philadelphia International Airport. When TSA officers spotted the gun in the security checkpoint X-ray machine, they alerted Philadelphia Police, who confiscated the weapon and arrested the woman, a Philadelphia resident, on weapons charges. It was the 26th firearm stopped at the airport this year, the same number for the whole of 2020 and six more than in 2019.

On September 10, TSA officers stopped a 48-year-old male from carrying a loaded firearm onto an airplane at Boston Logan International Airport. This was the 12th firearm detection this year at Boston Logan, 11 were detected in 2020 and 18 in 2019. On September 10, a TSA officer detected a loaded 9mm firearm with a bullet chambered along with a magazine containing ten rounds in the man’s backpack.  Massachusetts State Police responded, and escorted the Massachusetts resident out of the checkpoint to secure his firearm.

Also on September 10, TSA officers stopped a Pittsburgh resident from bringing his loaded .42 caliber handgun onto a flight at Pittsburgh International Airport. It marked the 21st gun caught at the airport so far this year, tying the number caught in 2020. When TSA officers spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, they alerted Allegheny County Police who then confiscated the weapon and temporarily detained the man for questioning before citing him and issuing him a summons to appear in court.

“The 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been in the news cycle for two solid weeks, and yet here a traveler brought a loaded gun to our checkpoint a day before that solemn date,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “I find it interesting that so many individuals are not aware that TSA was created as a result of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. We are here to ensure that another 9/11 does not take place. We’re doing our job. What we need is for travelers to do their part and not bring weapons to the airport checkpoint. If you want to transport your gun, it needs to be unloaded, packed in a locked hard-sided case and brought to the airline check-in counter to be declared and transported in the belly of the plane with the checked baggage. People who bring their guns to TSA checkpoints face a federal financial civil penalty that will hit them hard in the wallet.”

Find out more about the correct way to travel with a firearm at TSA

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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