If you are traveling this holiday season, TSA has a message for you: bring your patience, not your gun.
“What’s most concerning for us is we are continuing to see people traveling with their firearm and they bring it to the checkpoint,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said during a press conference at PIT on Nov. 30.
“There’s a right way to travel with a firearm and a wrong way to travel with a firearm. The wrong way is to bring it to the checkpoint. That’s trouble.”
Farbstein outlined the right way:
- Ensure the firearm is unloaded
- Pack it in a hard-sided, locked gun case
- Declare it to the airline at the counter when checking luggage
According to TSA, too many travelers simply don’t look inside their bags to make sure a gun is not in it.
“The most common excuse from people is they forgot they had the firearm with them,” Farbstein said. “That excuse doesn’t fly with us.”
Nationally, the TSA has found more than 5,000 guns at the nation’s airport checkpoints this year and was on track earlier this year to break the all-time record. At PIT, 24 guns have been found so far this year, short of being on track to breaking the local record of 35, set in 2019.
The consequences for bringing a gun to a security checkpoint can be serious. When a firearm is found at the TSA security checkpoint, Allegheny County Police immediately secure and seize the weapon.
Officials said police then check if there are outstanding warrants for the person and ensure the gun is registered to them. Police hold the firearm until a determination is made regarding criminal charges. Additionally, TSA can fine the person up to $13,000.
Federal prosecutors in Western Pennsylvania also said last year they began sending letters to county sheriffs, asking them to revoke the concealed carry permits of individuals who bring a gun to an airport security checkpoint.
Farbstein encouraged all travelers, particularly those who have not travelled in a while, to visit TSA.gov to better understand what belongings can travel in a carry-on, what can travel in a checked bag, or neither.
“The most common mistake is over-sized liquids,” Farbstein said. “Know before you go—visit the TSA homepage.”