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TSA Catching Twice As Many Guns At Airport Checkpoints

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The TSA reports an alarming number of airline passengers who are trying to board planes with loaded guns. It's a problem at Pittsburgh International and airports across the country.

It's gotten worse during the pandemic. Despite fewer passengers, on a percentage basis, TSA officers are discovering more guns at checkpoints.

To be clear, if you're licensed to carry, you can properly pack and check your gun. But you can't bring it into the cabin.

Some passengers are toting some extra weight in their carry-ons at Pittsburgh International: loaded guns.

"We are seeing this trend not just in Pittsburgh, but this is a national trend. Even though there are significantly fewer travelers out there, the rate of guns is higher," said TSA Spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

Farbstein says it's an alarming trend and she's not sure why it's happening.

"The vast majority of people who want to fly with their guns were showing up at checkpoints with loaded guns. People are telling us they forgot they had a loaded gun with them? Really? It is almost unbelievable," said Farbstein.

In 2017 at Pittsburgh International, they confiscated 32 guns. In 2018, 34. The next year, 35. Then in 2020, a year when very few people flew, 21 guns.

And in just three and a half months this year, they've already seized 11.

"Even if you have a concealed carry permit, you are not allowed to bring the gun on the plane. It's pretty common sense. It's pretty much common sense," said Farbstein.

In 2019, the year before the pandemic, the TSA estimates they found five guns per one million passengers. But last year it was double the rate: 10 guns per million.

When they find them, TSA shuts down the checkpoint and waits for police. It's a big inconvenience for other passengers.

"We leave the carry-on bag in the X-ray machine. We do not want our TSA officers handling firearms. That's an accident waiting to happen," said Farbstein.

If you're licensed to carry, police usually don't file criminal charges. But the TSA will fine you, and it's expensive. A first offense can cost you between $4,000 and $13,000.

It's much better to safely pack and check your gun.

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