PITTSBURGH — Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) prevented two Pennsylvania residents from bringing their handguns through the security checkpoint on Friday, March 24, according to a press release from the TSA. 

A Pittsburgh 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.

“These two guns caught on Friday were the fourth guns caught by our officers in carry-on bags so far this month. It is vital that travelers remember that their guns are not permitted through any airport security checkpoint,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “In all instances, if you bring a gun to a checkpoint it will result in a serious conversation with the police, possible criminal charges and a hefty federal financial civil penalty that could cost you into the thousands of dollars. And of course you will not be permitted to bring your firearm through the checkpoint.”

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.

In addition to the citation by airport police, individuals who bring firearms to TSA checkpoints also face a stiff financial civil penalty. Penalties for carrying a weapons were recently increased to a maximum of $15,000.

TSA officers prevented a Wexford, Pa., man from carrying this handgun through the security checkpoint at Pittsburgh International Airport on March 24. (TSA photo)
TSA officers prevented a Wexford, Pa., man from carrying this handgun through the security checkpoint at Pittsburgh International Airport on March 24. (TSA photo)

Firearms are not permitted through a security checkpoint because passengers should not have access to a firearm during a flight. This even applies to travelers with concealed carry permits or are enrolled in the TSA PreCheck® program, who will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges if they bring a gun to a checkpoint.  Individuals who bring their gun to a security checkpoint also face a federal financial civil penalty.

Last year, 6,542 firearms were caught at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide. Eighty-eight percent of those guns were loaded.

TSA firearms catches at airport checkpoints at Pittsburgh International Airport, 2017 to 2023

Year2017201820192020202120222023(as of 3/26/23)
Pittsburgh International Airport32 3435 2132265

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 gun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on 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. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

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.

Unsure if an item should be packed in a carry-on bag, checked bag, either or neither? Download the free myTSA app, which has a handy “What can I bring?” feature that allows you to type in the item to find out if it can fly. Or ask on Twitter or Facebook Messenger at @AskTSA. Travelers may send a question by texting “Travel” to AskTSA (275-872).