One of Michigan’s top Republican lawmakers has been fined for bringing an unregistered gun to the airport. Rep. Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) was caught with the gun at the Pellston Regional Airport in July.
On August 21, the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office charged Chatfield with a civil infraction. The following day, Chatfield paid a $250 fine. He could not be reached for comment but has said on Facebook that bringing the gun to the airport was an accident. He called it an “inexcusable mistake.”
Now it’s up to the Transportation Security Administration to decide if it will also fine Chatfield. Michael McCarthy, a spokesperson for the TSA, says it can take them a couple months to decide on a penalty.
“That penalty is a monetary penalty,” he says. “The range of that civil penalty will vary depending on the circumstances.”
He says the maximum fine is nearly $10,000.
“I don’t want to say it’s a common occurrence, but it’s not uncommon for passengers to bring undeclared firearms in their carry-on luggage to the checkpoint,” says McCarthy. “It happened nearly 4,000 times last year in 2017 across the country.”
He says it’s up to local law enforcement to press criminal charges.
Emmet County Prosecutor James Linderman announced in August that he would not press charges. He said there is a loophole in Michigan law that makes it difficult to prosecute such cases. However, in other similar instances in Michigan, people have been arrested and charged.
Linderman is a Republican and has supported Chatfield’s campaign in the past.