A Southwest Airlines pilot was accused of having a handgun in his carryon suitcase last Wednesday. The pilot, who was apprehended by TSA agents at St. Louis Lambert International Airport, was allegedly carrying a 9 mm Smith & Wesson M&P pistol.
The 51-year-old jet pilot was apprehended at approximately 4:45 a.m. The pistol allegedly was loaded, with seven rounds of ammunition. Authorities detained the man before he was supposed to get on board a flight. Authorities are not certain if the man was traveling as a crew member, or if he was just a passenger.
Police say that the pilot did not possess a concealed weapons permit, nor did he have authorization to carry the pistol. For passengers who wish to travel with a firearm, they must pack the firearm in their checked luggage, and it must be unloaded. The owner of the firearm must also advise the airline of his or her plans. It doesn’t appear that the pilot carried out either of these steps in this case.
Although the man has yet to be charged, the case has been given to the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office. The county prosecutor will consider what kinds of charges may be appropriate in this alleged weapons crimes case.
It could be that the pilot in this case simply forgot that the firearm was in his bag. This is usually the case in almost all situations where a passenger is found with a gun in his or her bag. Ultimately, the pilot will want to learn about his legal rights and options for defense in this case. If he is convicted of a weapons crime, it could affect his ability to work as an airline pilot.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Pilot arrested for loaded gun in his carry-on luggage at Lambert airport,” Kim Bell, Nov. 15, 2017