A seasoned American Airlines flight attendant was arrested on Friday for carrying a firearm in a terminal of O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.
The 44-year airline employee, Sheila Schultz, was passing through a security checkpoint when Transportation Security Administration agents scanned her carry-on bag.
In it, the TSA agents found a loaded .22 caliber revolver that belonged to her husband.
Schultz told authorities that she had no idea that the gun was in her travel bag and that her husband must have left it in there by accident.
Despite her story, which seems entirely plausible given the fact that she has no arrest record or criminal history, she was charged with boarding an airplane with a weapon, a felony, and possessing a firearm without a valid FOID card, a misdemeanor.
On Saturday afternoon the 65-year old attended a hearing before a Cook County Judge. The Judge, Israel Desierto, set her bail at 10,000.
Schultz posted bail and will return to court this Friday, Nov. 30.
In this case, it seems like it was a genuine mistake on behalf of Schultz’s husband.
Of course, one wonders how Schultz missed the gun when packing her stuff in the bag, i.e. does it have multiple pockets? Is it a larger bag? Why didn’t Schultz do a more thorough check of the bag before bringing it to the airport?
Still, though, mistakes do happen and one would think that in this situation, given the facts available, Schultz deserves no more than a slap on the wrist (if that).
However, it is Chicago, which like NYC is known to have a short fuse when it comes to “gun crimes” – regardless of the circumstances of the case (there are numerous stories from NYC in which tourists are caught carrying concealed handguns and go on to face mandatory minimum sentences, for more on this click here).
In a previous Guns.com article, involving a Philadelphia flight attendant who accidentally brought her gun through a security checkpoint and was detained, Guns.com writer Dabney Bailey posed the question as to whether there should be some sort of charge built into the legal system to address gun mishaps; one that would ensure that otherwise law-abiding citizens aren’t racked over the coals when something goes wrong. He wrote:
We already have a template for that in our existing legal system. Involuntary manslaughter, while still a punishable offense, is less severe than manslaughter. Should we do something similar with laws that relate to gun possession and transportation?
It’s an interesting question.
When it comes to gun possession and transportation and law-abiding citizens, I’m a proponent of the ‘no harm, no foul’ approach (Why saddle someone with a felony for exercising their right to keep and bear arms?), but that’s just my $.02.