Airport Open Carry Stunt Leads to Predictable Gun Ban Legislation

We told you about AR-15 open carrier Jim Cooley’s stunt earlier this month.

Jim Cooley walked into the world’s busiest airport with an AR-15 fitted with a drum magazine slung across his chest last week, and has the temerity to feign offense when law enforcement reasonably took an interest in him:

A metro Atlanta man says he was harassed for exercising his second amendment rights while at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport last week.

Jim Cooley says that while he and his wife took his daughter to the airport after a vacation, he openly carried his AR-15 rifle – which is his right under Georgia state law.

And while city officials have in the past expressed dismay over the fact that citizens are permitted to carry weapons in the open and public areas of the airport, it is, indeed, perfectly legal for citizens to walk through the airport with their weapons displayed in view, provided they do not move into the TSA-controlled secure areas of the airport property.

Cooley says he was approached by several Atlanta Police officers asking about his firearm, which he said he was carrying for safety, while at the airport.

At no point does Cooley claim that the officers attempted to deny him entry to the airport, or attempt to detain or arrest him. All he alleges is that officers asked him about his decision to walk into an airport with a rifle with a drum magazine.

In the sane world, we call that a “reasonable response” to abnormal behavior, not harassment.


As a direct result of Cooley’s stunt, Georgia Democrat Hank Johnson has now proposed a federal law to ban both open and concealed carry in airports.

A House Democrat is introducing legislation to ban guns in airport areas that are located before security checkpoints.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said the measure, which has been dubbed the Airport Security Act of 2015, would prevent anyone other than police officers from carrying guns in areas of airports that are located before security checkpoints, even if they have a license to carry concealed weapons.

“Airports are the gateway to commerce throughout the world and the front door to the communities they connect for millions of passengers who visit the United States each year,” Johnson said in a statement. “It defies logic that we would allow anyone other than law enforcement officials to carry a loaded gun within an airport. This bill is simple common sense.”

Thankfully, is is very unlikely that Johnson will amass enough support to make this bill viable.

Sadly, we’re now having to devote energies on defense to explain why Johnson’s proposed bill really isn’t “common sense.” It’s a prospect made all the more difficult because your average citizen isn’t going to be able to grasp why a mentally healthy person might want or need to walk into an airport with AR-15 with a drum magazine inserted to see someone off at the airport, unless that airport is in Afghanistan.


When gun rights activists and pro-gun lawmakers have to deal with distracting, grandstanding behavior like Cooley’s, it takes away time we could better spend attempting to pass other pro-gun laws, or dismantle gun control laws already on the books.

Jim Cooley’s fifteen-minute stunt did nothing to help the gun rights movement, and gave gun control supporters ammunition that they will reuse again and again for years to come to portray gun owners as extreme, paranoid, and out of touch with the American mainstream.

That’s not helping us, and never will.

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