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TSA Stops Multiple Firearms at Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Baltimore Airports

Meanwhile, TSA officials and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police have voiced their concern about the increase in the frequency that they are seeing travelers carry handguns to security checkpoints at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Pittsburgh International Airport prevented two Pennsylvania residents from bringing their handguns through the security checkpoint on Friday, March 24.   

A Pittsburgh, Pa., man was caught with a .40 caliber handgun loaded with 12 bullets and a Wexford, Pa., man was stopped with his 9mm handgun loaded with 10 bullets.

Earlier in the week, TSA officers at Philadelphia International Airport prevented two more Pennsylvania travelers from bringing their loaded handguns onto a flight on Wednesday, March 22. First, TSA officers stopped a Hamburg, Pa., woman who was in possession of a .380 caliber handgun loaded with seven bullets among her carry-on items. She told officials that she forgot that she had her loaded gun with her. Then in the early evening a Philadelphia man also was caught with his 9 mm handgun that was loaded with 11 bullets, including one in the chamber. The firearm was in his carry-on bag.

In each instance, the guns were detected when the security checkpoint X-ray unit alerted on the guns, which were removed by the local police who confiscated the guns and issued criminal citations to the travelers. The cases were not related.   

In addition to the citations by airport police, all these travelers also face a stiff financial civil penalty.  The penalty for carrying weapons recently increased to a maximum of $15,000.

Meanwhile, TSA officials and the Maryland Transportation Authority Police have voiced their concern about the increase in the frequency that they are seeing travelers carry handguns to security checkpoints at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Last year TSA officers detected 35 handguns at Baltimore security checkpoints, which set a new record for the most guns brought to the airport checkpoints in a single year. Eighty-three percent of the guns caught at Baltimore last year were loaded. Already in 2023, 10 guns have been detected at the airport’s checkpoints, including one that was caught on Tuesday, March 21.

“The most common excuse we hear is that someone forgot that they had their gun with them,” said Christopher Murgia, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Maryland. “That’s no excuse. If you own a firearm, you need to know where it is at all times. It’s part of being a responsible gun owner.”

Murgia added that, “Our officers are good at their jobs, but that is not the type of record we want to set. We would much rather see travelers pack their firearms properly for a flight or leave them at home.”

As well as firearms, TSA officers stop a wide variety of prohibited items at the checkpoint, some of which have been concealed in surprising ways. For example, TSA officers at Jacksonville International Airport recently stopped a traveler who had hidden a knife in a deodorant bottle. Like guns, knives and blades should be packed securely in checked baggage and adequately sheathed so as not to cause injury to baggage handlers.

Read more about how to travel with firearms and ammunition at TSA

author avatar
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.
Kylie Bielby
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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