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By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Transportation Security Administration says they are “highly concerned” about the recent increase in firearms found at the security checkpoint at Pittsburgh International Airport.

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Calling it an easily preventable “gun epidemic,” the TSA and local law enforcement addressed their concerns at a news conference on Wednesday morning.

With three months left in the year, the TSA says it has already caught 27 firearms at the security checkpoint so far this year. Last week, five guns in six days were found.

Karen Keys-Turner, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport, says people often say they forgot they had loaded guns with them.

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Allegheny County Police says people who bring guns to checkpoints may get their concealed carry permits revoked.

“After TSA officers find guns, we respond and conduct an investigation. We are often told by the passenger, ‘I didn’t know it was in my bag,’ or ‘I forgot it was in there.’ We will be requesting that the county sheriff’s office revoke concealed carry permits on the basis of irresponsible gun ownership,” said Kenneth Ruckel, the Allegheny County Police Department inspector and division commander at the airport.

Consequences could also be costly. The fine for violations starts at $3,000 and can run up to nearly $14,000.

“Responsible gun owners know where their guns are at all times and they know the proper way to transport a handgun to their destination,” said Keys-Turner.

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Officials say there is one legal way to take your gun with you when you fly: pack it unloaded and locked in a hard-sided case and declared at an airport ticket counter.

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