A Georgia open-carry activist turned a few heads this week as he carried his loaded AR-15 through the main terminal of Atlanta International Airport.
Jim Cooley said he carried his gun with a 100-round drum through parts of the terminal when he and his wife went to drop their daughter off for a flight Tuesday, a local ABC affiliate reported.
“You can carry in unsecured areas of the airport. Past TSA, never,” he explained.
Mr. Cooley said he was first approached by a fire marshal who asked him why he was carrying the gun in the airport. He said he was then approached by a police officer, who asked him about the gun and whether he was permitted to open carry, ABC reported.
Mr. Cooley said he told the officials that he was carrying the gun for his own safety.
“It shouldn’t matter what I carry, just that I choose to carry,” he said. “You never know where something might happen.”
He said the same police officer from earlier approached him and his wife again as they were exiting the airport. The officer called for backup and Mr. Cooley said a police lieutenant and two officers followed the couple to their car and took pictures of it, ABC reported.
An APD police report says, “At no time was Mr. Cooley deprived of his ability to leave property or freely move around the airport with the weapon. Officers followed to assure the safety of all patrons at the airport.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Britt Johnson told ABC that although Mr. Cooley did not break federal law, he was questioned why he felt it necessary to exercise that right.
“If you don’t exercise your rights, the government doesn’t have any hesitation taking them away,” Mr. Cooley responded.
Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley said a Georgia law that took effect in July of last year allows a permitted citizen to carry a gun in a commercial airport, but not to knowingly take it in or beyond TSA screening areas, ABC reported.