Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Georgia Considers Even More Special Treatment for Concealed Carry Permit Holders Who Bring Guns to Airports by Mistake

Gary Lawrence usually carries a .22-caliber revolver while out walking his dog in rural Georgia as protection against venomous snakes and coyotes. But he says he learned a hard lesson while rushing to catch a flight at Atlanta’s airport last month, the firearm forgotten in the pocket of a heavy coat.

In the security line, he took off his belt, boots and leather coat and placed them on a conveyor belt to the X-ray machine when “all of a sudden, I had about five cops around me.” One of the officers asked what was in his coat pocket. “That’s when it hit me. I knew what was in my pocket. I just sank. I couldn’t deny it. I told him the story,” said Lawrence, who has a state-issued license to carry a gun.

Handcuffed, he was escorted away to spend a night in jail, charged with a misdemeanor.

Now gun-friendly lawmakers in Georgia want people licensed to carry a gun to avoid arrest if they accidentally bring their firearms into the security checkpoint at the country’s busiest airport and willingly leave the security line. It comes as gun rights groups in Georgia push state lawmakers to broaden the places where people can legally take guns, including churches and other houses of worship.

The labor union representing airport security screeners opposes loosening laws banning guns at security checkpoints, especially after one TSA officer was killed and three other people wounded last November in a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport.

Lawmakers supportive of the plan in Georgia say some wiggle room should be allowed. They want to allow people licensed to carry a gun to avoid being arrested if they are caught at a security checkpoint carrying a firearm and obey instructions to leave. Offenders without a license to carry a gun could still be arrested.

“I would tell you that a lot of people carry a weapon,” said state Rep. Alan Powell, a Republican who supports the bill. “It’s almost like it’s just a second nature to them. And sometimes they forget where they have, you know, they basically forget they’ve got it in a briefcase or a suitcase.”
Those convicted of a misdemeanor for carrying a gun into the secured areas of Georgia’s airports could face a $1,000 fine or up to a year of probation or prison time. However, charges are dismissed against most first-time offenders if they attend gun safety classes, surrender the firearm they illegally brought to the checkpoint and stay out of further trouble. They do not lose their license to carry a weapon in Georgia. TSA officials can separately fine them up to $11,000.


  1. This sounds much like the previous article about these incidents in Texas. The concept being of course has to do with intent.

  2. Zero tolerance is stupid. When law sucks out common sense, that's when things get idiotic.

  3. To Mikeb, having to pay up to $12,000 and losing the particular gun is such a minor punishment.

  4. People caught with gun related contraband at security checkpoints sure do get "special treatment" vs. other forms of contraband, but I wouldn't call it good treatment.