Under the right circumstances, it’s conceivable to board an airplane and forget that a handgun was accidentally left in a handbag. However, that is not an excuse. It is a textbook definition for foolishness though. All that foolishness is further enhanced when it involves an elected public official who has opposed concealed weapon laws for decades.
For Illinois State Senator Donne Trotter, that explains the predicament that he placed himself into last week when he was arrested for trying to board an airplane at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport with a .25-caliber Beretta semiautomatic pistol in his carry-on bag.
Trotter has served in the Illinois legislature for two decades. He placed third in a 2000 Congressional race between Congressman Bobby Rush and Barack Obama. Trotter is running for Congress again. He is considered a frontrunner for the seat vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr. There’s a good chance that is about to change.
CBS Chicago explained what transpired:
Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) was charged with a felony count of attempting to board an aircraft with a weapon, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. The charge carries a penalty of 1 to 3 years in jail.
WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports Chicago police said TSA agents found the gun in a carry-on bag around 7 a.m. as Trotter was going through a security checkpoint. A TSA spokesperson said in an email that the gun was loaded with seven rounds, but there was not a round in the gun’s chamber.
A police spokeswoman said Trotter is licensed to carry a weapon and has a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification card.
Illinois holds a unique status in regards to concealed weapons. It is the only state not to allow concealed carry, although some counties do not enforce that state law. While Trotter may have been licensed, the gun was not registered with the city of Chicago as required by municipal ordinance.
So how does Trotter have a license to carry a weapon then? That’s because his $60K a year job and per Diem expenses are not enough for him to live on. That’s not a surprise as many legislators have an extra source of income. However, most legislators have either a business or a good job working on the side. Trotter, with two decades of legislative experience, must have found job hunting challenging.
As CBS Chicago further explained:
Trotter claimed he forgot he had a handgun in his bag because he had worked the night before as a security guard.
As long as Trotter was going to and from work, it was legal to carry his gun. Yet with his experience, the best job Trotter can find was that of a security guard?
Trotter is taking the argument that the more than full-time job of a legislator, coupled with meetings involving his constituents and campaigning, still allows Trotter time to moonlight for Allpoints Security and Detective Inc. Allpoints’ guards do things like protect libraries and transport cash for the Chicago Transit Authority. Trotter claimed he was working the late shift the previous night and forgot the gun.
With hindsight, it would probably have been better for Trotter to take a job as a Wal-Mart greeter to supplement his state paycheck.
The story goes deeper than this. It is inconceivable that Trotter couldn’t find a better paying job than as a security guard or that he even has the time to stay up into the late hours watching for graffiti taggers and midnight burglars. It is inconceivable and not true, as CBS Chicago goes onto explain:
But an informed source is telling CBS 2 that Trotter never worked as a guard and that the security company listed him as an employee on their books as a political favor. That favor allowed Trotter to get a city permit to carry a concealed handgun, with some restrictions.
Besides being a hypocrite for opposing the public from having guns while keeping one for himself, Trotter is taking political favors from a company that has contributed $50,000 to candidates over the last decade.
While it is true that Allpoints listed Trotter as one of its 50 security guards, it is highly doubtful that Trotter ever patrolled an 8-hour shift to protect some property. In addition, his campaign disclosures never mentioned that he worked at the security firm.
This will end Trotter’s chances of becoming a Congressman. Yet he has bigger problems now that he is out on $25,000 bail and faces possible prison time. The real question is if he is going to get off with a slap of the wrist. An average American who forgets a handgun in a carry-on would not get that opportunity. Trotter shouldn’t either.