San Bernardino Republican Tim Donnelly, a Tea Party member and gun rights advocate in the California State Assembly, has apparently added some walk to his talk. He was detained and cited Wednesday for trying to carry a loaded gun on a plane he was trying to take from the Ontario airport to Sacramento. He faces a misdemeanor charge.
The Sacramento Bee first reported the story:
The Twin Peaks Republican was stopped at a security checkpoint about 6:45 a.m. and eventually cited and released by airport police, said Nico Melendez, spokesman for the federal Transportation Security Administration. ... Donnelly was flying from Southern California to Sacramento today for the start of the 2012 legislative session.
... Donnelly's carry-on bag contained a loaded .45 Colt Mark IV handgun with four rounds in the magazine and a spare magazine with five additional rounds, Melendez said.
Loaded gun incidents are not totally uncommon at airports, and they usually happen because the passenger forgot a loaded gun was in their bag. It happened 1,200 times last year, the Bee reported. In fact, that's what happened just last month at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank when a 68-year-old Oxnard man said he forgot he was carrying his .22-caliber Colt Junior firearm.
Other media outlets have been unsuccessful in getting in touch with Donnelly and so have we. We'll update if we make contact.
UPDATE 1:13 p.m. KFI AM 640 and our sister station, KQED, are reporting comments from Donnelly indicating that he is saying he did indeed mistakenly leave the gun in his briefcase before heading to the airport. He also said that he's carrying the gun due to death threats he says he's receiving over his opposition to the California Dream Act. The law makes it possible for illegal immigrants to get student financial aid at public universities and community colleges. The Riverside Press-Enterprise also has a statement from the assemblyman.
UPDATE 3:19 p.m. “I put it there on Saturday when I was working alone on my garage," Donnelly said. "Because we have received death threats with what I’ve been working on with AB131. So I do tend to always be armed. I completely forgot coming back from work this morning that it was in that briefcase. And it was about as heavy when I carry my laptop. So it just didn’t register.”
Airline passengers are allowed to bring permitted firearms onto planes, but only if they’re unloaded and inside checked baggage — not in carry-ons.
Donnelly’s district includes mountain and desert communities across San Bernardino and L.A. counties.