State senator detained after trying to bring gun on airplane by mistake

DOVER — State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn was detained by authorities Thursday morning after he accidentally attempted to bring a gun onboard an airplane.

Sen. Pettyjohn, a Georgetown Republican, said in a statement he has been “carrying a concealed weapon regularly” after several individuals, including U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, were shot in Alexandria, Va., June 14.

“I inadvertently left my weapon in a laptop bag as I was headed to the airport to attend the Southern Regional Education Board conference that is being held this weekend in New Orleans,” Sen. Pettyjohn said.

“Upon my bag being checked by (Transportation Security Administration agents), the handgun was detected. I was escorted to the on-airport office of the Wicomico County sheriff’s office where I was briefly questioned about what was found. Upon giving my statement and a computer check of both my record and my handgun, I was released to reschedule my flight.”

According to the TSA, the gun was loaded.

“Individuals who bring firearms to the checkpoint are subject to possible criminal charges from local law enforcement and civil penalties from TSA of up to $12,000,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said in an email. “Tyically a first offense for bringing a firearm to a checkpoint is $3,000.”

As of Thursday, Sen. Pettyjohn was not charged with any fines.

Editor’s note: Please see for new developments.

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

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