State senator gets probation in gun case


Brian G. Pettyjohn

DOVER — State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn will not face jail time for bringing a gun to an airport.

Sen. Pettyjohn, a Georgetown Republican, entered an agreement Friday where a felony charge would be dismissed and he would accept an unsupervised 18-month probation on a misdemeanor charge of carrying a handgun.

“At the end of that period of probation, if nothing else has occurred the matter is dismissed, and it’s as if it never occurred,” Bruce Rogers, one of Sen. Pettyjohn’s attorneys, said.

Sen. Pettyjohn was detained June 22 after a loaded handgun was found in his carry-on bag at Salisbury Regional Airport in Maryland. He was charged with firearm on an aircraft, a felony that carries up to 10 years in jail, as well as carrying a handgun, which is a misdemeanor.

Sen. Pettyjohn said in a statement at the time he accidentally left the firearm in a laptop bag and had been regularly carrying a concealed handgun after a June 14 shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, wounded several people, including U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise.

“As I have said in the past, I’m not the first person who has made an honest mistake,” Sen. Pettyjohn said in a statement Friday. “I’m thankful for the professionalism of all parties involved, including my counsel John Phoebus. My family and I are happy that this is now behind us, and I look forward to continuing to work for and represent the people of the 19th senate district.”

He forfeited the gun as part of the agreement but does not have to pay a fine. The resolution, his lawyer noted, is not an admission of guilt.

Sen. Pettyjohn has a concealed carry permit for Delaware but not for Maryland.

A trial was scheduled for to begin in Circuit Court for Wicomico County, Maryland, on Oct. 31.

Sen. Pettyjohn was at the airport in June to fly to the Southern Regional Education Board conference in New Orleans. The gun was found by Transportation Security Administration agents, and the senator was questioned at the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office’s airport location.

He was then released and allowed to fly to New Orleans.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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