TSA: ‘Never bring a gun to a checkpoint’; tips on packing firearms for airport travel
Transportation Security Administration officials don’t care if you travel with your firearm – as long as you pack it and check it properly.
“Never bring a gun to a checkpoint. It’s pretty much that simple,” said Lisa Farbstein, spokeswoman for the TSA.
Security officials at Pittsburgh International Airport have discovered 28 guns in carry-on luggage so far this year. They found 37 last year. Officials at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Westmoreland County confiscated two weapons in each of the last two years, records show.
Across the country, TSA agents found 3,957 firearms in carry-on luggage, and 84 percent of them were loaded. Five years ago, security officials found just 1,813 guns in carry-on bags, according to TSA data.
“We’re seeing a trend where people are continuing to bring their firearms to checkpoints, and we want to see that trend go in the opposite direction,” Farbstein said.
She said the most common excuses are that the passengers forgot the gun was in the bag or that a family member packed a bag for them. It’s a mistake that can end in fines or arrest. It’s also a tremendous inconvenience to everyone in line behind you.
“We’re going to spot it in the X-ray machine, and now that lane comes to a complete stop,” Farbstein said. “All the passengers behind that individual get shifted to another lane, so it’s really going to delay them.”
After it a gun is discovered, police arrive and go through the carry-on bag and either issue a citation or arrest the person. The TSA can also issue a civil citation of $3,900 for a first-time offense.
“So like I said, it can be a very expensive mistake to make,” Farbstein said.
Passengers should travel with the gun unloaded and packed in a hard-side case that can lock, she said. Ammunition must be in its original box and can be packed inside the case next to the firearm. At the airport, passengers should hand the packed gun over at the baggage counter and fill out a short piece of paperwork. The gun will be packed in the belly of the plane.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.