Former Gainesville school board member Kelvin J. Simmons faces a criminal charge and a possible civil fine after he was arrested at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for allegedly trying to pass through airport security carrying a loaded handgun.
Simmons, 59, was arrested Saturday morning and charged with carrying a weapon in an unauthorized location. The police report stated that security officers with the Transportation Security Administration saw the .25-caliber handgun in the carry-on bag while monitoring an X-ray machine at a security checkpoint.
Passengers can carry unloaded guns in checked baggage, but all guns, ammunition and gun parts are prohibited in carry-on baggage, the TSA website said.
The report noted that Simmons didn’t have a firearms license. There was no ammunition in the chamber of the gun, but it did contain six bullets.
He was released from the Clayton County jail Sunday afternoon after posting bail. Jon Allen, spokesman for the TSA, said Simmons could be assessed a civil penalty of up to $7,500.
Calls to Simmons were not returned, but the police report states he told officers he forgot to remove the gun from his bag and he didn’t renew his firearms license.
“Our advice to passengers is always to make sure they know what’s in their bag and that it doesn’t contain prohibited items like firearms,” Allen said. “It’s their responsibility to know what’s in their bags.”
Simmons’ handgun is the 83rd firearm the TSA has caught this year at Atlanta’s airport, up from 69 in 2011. There were 1,320 firearms discovered at TSA checkpoints in 2011.