Brain-Dead Proposal Over Guns Found by TSA Stalled in Pennsylvania

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

On a regular basis, while looking at gun-related news, I see reports of X number of guns being found by TSA at various airports. TSA releases a report of what was found where and the media glomps on with glee.


Especially on a slow news day.

But people taking guns to the airport and not checking them in their baggage according to procedure is a problem. It happens and makes all of us look bad, even if it's a distinct minority who do so.

In Pennsylvania, one lawmaker had a brilliant idea (read that sarcastically, if you'd be so kind) to address the issue. The problem is that he's still waiting on feedback from people like law enforcement.

Legislation drafted to reduce the number of guns confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration at Pittsburgh International Airport has been sent back to the drawing board.

State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, said he was hoping to have already presented his proposed TSA Firearm Compliance Act, a measure that would revoke the concealed carry permits of anyone who is caught with a firearm at a TSA checkpoint. The draft was held back while he talks with state and federal law enforcement and other stakeholders to ensure the language is effective enough to make a change.

“We hear a lot about gun rights, but what about the responsibilities that come with owning a firearm?” Frankel said. “Nearly every week, we see another case of a careless individual endangering the safety of fellow travelers, draining resources from security personnel and generally gumming up the works in Pennsylvania’s airports by bringing a gun through a security checkpoint in a carry-on bag. Frankly, my constituents are frustrated, and so am I.”

As of April 30, TSA agents at Pittsburgh International have confiscated 14 guns, almost a third of the amount of guns confiscated by TSA in all of 2023. Under current laws, if a gun owner walks up to an airport security checkpoint with a loaded gun in their carry-on luggage, the weapon will be confiscated and they’ll receive a fine. There is no guarantee they will lose their permit to carry a concealed weapon.


Based on those numbers, and the fact that Frankel's Squirrel Hill is a suburb of Pittsburgh, I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say that no, he's not hearing about this happening on a weekly basis.

I'm also going to point out that few of these individuals are knowingly bringing guns to a TSA checkpoint. It's often left in their bag from a previous trip--one where carrying a gun isn't an issue--and they're often as surprised as TSA.

So you're going to strip them of their concealed carry permit over not realizing their gun is in a piece of luggage from their last trip? 

And what about those who don't have carry permits? If the law simply strips them of their permit, those without one have absolutely nothing to lose. Since we know TSA misses guns, all that'll happen to these folks is that their gun will be taken and they'll get a fine. Nothing the state does will touch them.

Plus, as one of Frankel's fellow lawmakers notes, it's a non-issue anyway.

State Rep. Valerie Gaydos, R-Moon, whose district includes Pittsburgh International, balked at the idea of seeking a legislative solution “for a problem that really does not exist.”

“Personally, I don’t think that it’s up to the state to put that mandate on the county sheriffs,” she said. “If the state sheriffs association says to me that we want you to change this law, I would be happy to meet with them. But we’ve had no such request.”


Gaydos said that with about 8 million passengers flying in and out of Pittsburgh International each year, the number of people stopped with guns does not warrant changing the law.


I'm just going to say that if you're talking about a few dozen guns or so per year among 8 million passengers, then yeah, Gaydos makes a good point about how this is a non-issue.

It's why context matters.

Among 8 million passengers flying out of Pittsburgh, any amount like we're talking about here is statistical noise. It's a non-issue at most major airports, which is probably why Frankel hears about them at all. After all, common events don't make the news.

As for stakeholders, I somehow bet Frankel isn't going to talk to pro-gun voices to get our take on things.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member