According to the TSA, the number of Americans accidentally bringing their guns with them to the airport has been rising in recent years, and this year could see a record-high number of firearms seized at airport security. Already more than 4,600 firearms have been discovered at airports around the country, compared to about 6,000 over the course of 2021, and while those found with a gun in their carry-on don’t face federal criminal charges, they can have fines of up to $14,000 imposed on them for their mistake. Additionally, depending on where the goof took place, they can still have state-level charges levied against them as well.
One of the latest gun owners to find herself in this embarrassing and potentially pricey situation is Bexar County Court Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez, who recently realized the hard way that she had left one of her pistols in her carry-on bag as she was going through security at the San Antonio airport on her way to a conference in Miami.
In her chambers behind County Court 13, Judge Gonzalez showed us the case she had at the checkpoint and the handgun that was in one of the pockets.
According to the police report, the handgun was “chambered with five bullets in the magazine.”
“I had a flight scheduled to go out to Miami, I had to make sure I caught the flight and it was a complete oversight on my part and I hope it serves as a lesson for people that carry to be that much more diligent in going through their things before they board a plane,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez says police allowed her wife to come pick up the gun. A San Antonio Police spokesperson said in an email that is the usual procedure.
Gonzalez was asked if she could face further repercussions.
“I think I could. I believe that the incident report has been forwarded to the district attorney’s office. I was told by the officer that TSA may follow through with a fine of some sort,” Gonzalez said.
The judge says that she owns and carries a firearm because of her work, which often puts her in contact with those accused of violent domestic abuse. Gonzalez told reporters that over the years she’s received a number of threats, likely from former defendants, and so she decided that she wanted to be able to protect herself.
I applaud her for thinking about her personal safety, but I’m sure she’s also kicking herself for not making sure she knew where her gun was before heading to the airport.
As I’ve written here previously, I’m downright paranoid when it comes to checking my bags before I travel, even though I don’t store my luggage with my guns. I guess I’m worried the Ammo Fairy is going to drop a couple of rounds in my carry-on, even though I really have no reason to be concerned. Still, every time I fly I end up checking every pocket of my bag beforehand, just to be on the safe side. It only takes a couple of minutes but it saves me the potential headache, embarrassment, and potential fines or criminal charges that could result from being caught with a gun or ammunition while going through airport security, and I encourage all gun owners to do the same. Mistakes can happen to the best of us, even judges, but a little time and attention is all that’s need to prevent this particular misstep.