PITTSBURGH (WOWK) – A West Virginia man has been cited on weapons charges after Transportation Security Administration officers say he had a 9 mm handgun loaded with seven bullets in his backpack at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Officials say a TSA officer spotted the handgun on the checkpoint X-ray machine’s monitor Tuesday, Sept. 8, and the TSA alerted the Allegheny County Police. Police then questioned the man, from Buckhannon, WV, and confiscated the gun. He has been cited on weapons charges, and TSA officials say he is also facing stiff federal civil penalties.
This is the third gun caught at the airport this week. TSA officers say they caught a traveler with a gun Wednesday, Sept 2, and another with a loaded gun, Friday, Sept. 4.
The TSA says it reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns 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. According to the TSA, this also applies to travelers with concealed gun carry permits because it still does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane.
Last year, 4,432 firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, according to the TSA. This averages to about 12.1 firearms per day, which is approximately a 5% increase in firearm discoveries from the total of 4,239 found in 2018. 87% of firearms detected at checkpoints last year were loaded, according to the TSA.
Details on how to properly travel with a firearm are posted on the TSA website. Travelers should also contact their airline to see if there are additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.