Atlanta Police major stopped at airport checkpoint with loaded gun

A top police official was stopped at an Atlanta airport checkpoint because he had a loaded firearm in his carry-on luggage.

Atlanta Police confirm Major Michael O'Connor was traveling out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Monday as a civilian.

He placed his carry-on book bag on the conveyor belt. Police say in the pocket of the book bag was a black Glock handgun.

It was filled with 18 rounds, including one in the chamber, police say.

Officers were called to the checkpoint, as is customary. The major was escorted to the airport precinct for a debriefing, in which the FBI participated.

Major Michael O'Connor

Major Michael O'Connor (FOX 5)

The entire matter was handled as if O'Connor was any other passenger, according to sources familiar with the incident.

He was instructed to secure his gun in some manner and then go on with his trip.

The Transportation Security Administration will review the report made on the stop and could levy a fine, likely in the range of $3,000.

The south checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The south checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. (FOX 5)

There is an additional aspect that stands out in the O'Connor stop. In an earlier role with APD, the airport was part of the major's responsibilities. He would have been inside the discussions about the problem of airport guns, keeping the facility safe and all the rest.

An APD spokesperson said the department will take an administrative look at what took place. That will be separate from the federal action.

Atlanta airport tops list of most firearms found in carry-on luggage

The TSA reported in January that a total of 448 firearms were found by security at Atlanta’s airport in 2022. It was 11% less than 2021, but still topped the nation in the number of guns found.

(FOX 5)

In all, the TSA says it screened 761.4 million passengers nationwide - an increase of over 25% compared to 2021. In Georgia, 27.74 million passengers were screened departing from Georgia airports.

Nationwide, one firearm was detected for every 116,394. In Georgia, the rate is greater than double that amount, with one firearm discovered for every 40,570 passengers screened.

How can you fly with a firearm?

Despite Georgia being an open-carry state, guns cannot be carried past a security checkpoint onto a plane or be in any carry-on luggage. The only way a weapon can travel on a flight is in checked luggage.

According to the TSA, firearms, including parts, magazines, clips, bolts and firing pins, all must fly in check baggage and have to be declared. This also includes replicas or toy guns.

(FOX 5)

The firearms must be unloaded, including an empty chamber, and locked in a hard-sided container.

Rifle scopes, however, are allowed in both carry-on and checked luggage.

In addition to possible criminal charges for the firearm, travelers can face a civil penalty of up to $15,000 per violation and can have their TSA PreCheck screening benefits or Trusted Traveler status temporarily revoked.

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