TSA officer stops W.Va. man with loaded handgun at checkpoint

A TSA officer prevented a West Virginia man from bringing a loaded handgun onto his flight on Saturday.
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 1:07 PM EST
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - A TSA officer at Pittsburgh International Airport prevented a West Virginia man from bringing a loaded handgun onto his flight on Saturday, Jan. 22.

The man, a resident of Wheeling, W.Va., was in possession of a 9mm handgun loaded with 14 bullets, according to TSA officials.

When the TSA officer spotted the gun in the checkpoint X-ray machine, the Allegheny County Police were alerted and confiscated the weapon.

TSA officers forwarded the incident to be followed up with the issuance of a federal financial civil penalty.

“It’s only January and already our TSA officers have detected two handguns at our security checkpoint so far this year,” said Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Travelers who own handguns need to take a little extra time when packing for a flight to make sure that they have not packed a gun or ammunition in their carry-on bag. There’s a right way and a wrong way to transport your gun for a flight. The wrong way is to bring it to a checkpoint. The right way is to pack the unloaded firearm in a locked hard-sided case and declare it at the check-in counter so that the airline can place it in the belly of the plane where nobody has access to it during a flight. This individual now faces a stiff federal civil penalty that could set him back thousands of dollars.”

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty of up to $13,900 to individuals who bring weapons with them to a checkpoint.

Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating or aggravating 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. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Officials said travelers are allowed to transport their firearms as checked baggage if they are properly packed and declared at their airline ticket counter to be transported in the belly of the plane with checked baggage.

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.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 firearms on passengers or their carry-on bags at checkpoints last year. Of the guns caught by TSA in 2022, about 86 percent were loaded.

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