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Passengers will face new penalties for leaving guns in luggage at the Pittsburgh airport

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Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

On today’s program: Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Kaufman explains a new policy enacted to crack down on the record-breaking number of firearms being found in air travelers carry on bags; and Women and Girls Foundation CEO Heather Arnet is stepping down next year, leaving a legacy that shifted the organization’s mission from supporting equity to achieving it.

TSA is on pace to find a record-breaking number of firearms in passenger carry-on bags this year
(0:00 - 8:01)

The number of firearms confiscated at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at Pittsburgh International Airport is on the rise and now the acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania is cracking down on people who bring weapons in their carry-on bags.

“We’ve announced … that when this occurs and there’s a passenger who claims that they inadvertently packed the firearm in the bag and forgot about it, we are going to ask the sheriff to rescind their concealed carry permit,” says U.S. Attorney Stephen Kaufman. “It’s just not responsible gun ownership to forget about a firearm in a bag which you place on the belt at the TSA checkpoint.”

So far, 27 firearms have been found this year.

“It’s hard to speculate on why,” says Kaufman. “These are isolated cases, but they almost inevitably involve negligence on behalf of the traveler.”

Previously, a firearm in a carry-on bag would result in a fine, but due to the rising number, Kaufman is coordinating with county sheriffs departments, which handles the applications for concealed carry permits.

“We hope that this new strategy will have a greater deterrent effect,” says Kaufman. “You’ve gotta check your bag five times if you have to, if you’re a gun owner, make sure your firearm is not in the bag.”

Longtime CEO of Pittsburgh Women’s Foundation announces departure from the organization
(8:08 - 22:30)

Pittsburgh’s Women and Girls Foundation will celebrate its 20th anniversary throughout the next year. And with this milestone, the organization’s longtime CEO, Heather Arnet, announced her departure.

From the moment she took on her position, Arnet says, the organization shifted to a more advocacy-focused, using coalition building and education to achieve its goals.

The organization and the public’s understanding of gender, equity and oppression have changed.

“I think what’s really exciting now is that it’s not just academic circles but throughout the whole broader community that we have a much more informed approach, a deeper understanding around gender, around sex and around the intersectionalities that come with all the different forms of discrimination that people have experienced that are at their core gender-based oppression but also have intersections around racism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, ableism, and that people are more than one thing,” she says.

While her organization has advocated and played a role in a number of legislative endeavors, she says one of her biggest successes may be on the horizon if Congress passes the Build Back Better plan, which includes investments in areas like maternal health and assisting families with child care expenses.

Arnet’s work with young people through GirlGov, an organization that seeks to empower women to become governmental leaders, is one of the things she is most proud of over the last two decades.

Arnet will stay on with the Women and Girls Foundation through next June.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Laura Tsutsui is a producer for The Confluence, WESA's morning news show. Previously, she reported on the San Joaquin Valley with the NPR affiliate station in her hometown of Fresno, California. She can be reached at
Rebecca Reese is a production assistant for The Confluence.
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