The following is a true story, but identifying information is disguised to protect the remaining dignity of the individual.
I met a very nice gentleman recently. He is an avid shooter, among many other activities and holds a Concealed Carry Permit, has for many years. He had reminded his traveling companion several times to check all of her bags, ensure no pepper spray, knife or firearm was present before they went to the airport. When they arrived at the airport and were heading through the TSA screening, his “tactical style” backpack went through the screening machine and the agent gave him a strange look. He wondered but didn’t think too much about it until they called him to walk through the portal and stopped him, and he saw a police officer approaching. Do you know that feeling of the floor dropping out from beneath your feet on some carnival rides? I think that may come close to the sick feeling of “I just messed up…big!”
That sinking feeling was confirmed with the words, “Sir, you are under arrest” and the feel of the handcuffs cold against his wrists. He had left a gun in a pocket of his backpack, completely forgotten it was there. (It had been placed there earlier in the week during a visit to family members with small children in an area where he wasn’t comfortable securing in the car or carrying on body. While I do not advocate off body carry, especially around children, he believed this to be the safest option at the time.) In his effort to ensure the security of his traveling companion, he had forgotten to take his own advice and triple check all of his bags. Somehow, the officer’s statement “This happens all the time”, provided little comfort through the long, cold night in jail while waiting for Monday morning to reach his attorney and make progress on bail.
This is an intelligent, educated professional, who is, this incident excepted, law-abiding. He is a volunteer rescue worker in his home community and is active is various other community and state support activities.
As of this writing, he has yet to draw an easy breath waiting on the outcome of this lapse. What will be the final cost of one forgetful moment? We don’t know. At the very least, there will be the legal bills. The other end of the spectrum could have life altering repercussions, loss of carry permit, possible jail time, loss of ability to continue some of the work he does due to a felony conviction.
My heart goes out to him, he is an excellent example of a contributing citizen…who made a fateful mistake. He knew the law and wasn’t attempting to get by with something, he truly was unaware that the gun was there.
What is the lesson? ALWAYS double check your bags before going to the airport to remove anything that could possibly create an issue. Additionally, ALWAYS be aware of the location of your firearms. Many of us become so accustomed to carrying our concealed firearm that we almost forget they are there. Remember this gentleman and check yourself…before the airport, the post office, the courthouse, a government building…anywhere that it is unlawful to carry your gun.
For now, I sincerely wish him the best of luck and hope that the judge will take his history and record of service to the community into account in adjudicating this matter.Safe Shooting!