Congressman Hostettler Cited For Carrying Gun In Airport

Published: Apr. 20, 2004 at 3:56 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 28, 2004 at 11:39 AM CDT
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Reporter: Ben Jackey

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

Update, Tuesday, 9:30 pm: Congressman Hostettler faces a charge that could put him behind bars.

Indiana's 8th district representative is in trouble after being detained at the Louisville airport for carrying a loaded gun in his briefcase.

The crime is a misdemeanor but it carries a sentence of up to a year in jail and a $500 fine.

So why was he carrying the gun and was he treated any differently? Hostettler says, "The young lady that was looking at the x-ray actually thought she was being tested, but she wasn't . She had just come across somebody that made a very stupid mistake and left my gun in my briefcase."

Republican Congressman John Hostettler says he simply forgot. The gun he carries for protection on long road trips was left in the briefcase during a two-week congressional recess.

Screeners caught the gun at a security checkpoint. "It was obvious that they weren't as upset as I was, but you could tell they were uncomfortable. But they did a marvelous job in making sure the airways were secure."

Hostettler says he was detained at the airport for an hour for FBI questioning. His loaded nine mm Glock was confiscated and he was let go.

Before he boarded his flight, the congressman was issued a citation for a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed and deadly weapon.

In a media conference call, the congressman says he doesn't expect special treatment from the courts.

Hostettler explained by phone, "There was no intent to do harm and it was mistake of mine, a rather stupid mistake I might add, but a stupid mistake nonetheless...that I will be treated virtually like everyone else who makes this mistake. I'm not sure that being an elected official has much say. The argument could be made that they could have overlooked the whole thing when they found out I was a congressman."

Hostettler hasn't said if he would fight the charges, but says if he does, it's not because he's a congressman, but because he says he never set foot past the checkpoint or onto the plane.

Representative Hostettler will be in Jefferson County District Court May fourth on the misdemeanor charge.

Hostettler says the U.S. District Attorney and the FBI are considering whether any federal charges should be filed.

Update, Tuesday, 5:31 pm: Southern Indiana congressman John Hostettler is stopped at the Louisville Airport for having a handgun in his briefcase.

Airport police tell Newswatch there's a misdemeanor citation against the 8th district Republican for carrying a concealed and deadly weapon.

Hostettler's spokesperson says the congressman simply forgot. Press secretary Michael Jahr says the congressman had a permit to carry his nine millimeter Glock in his briefcase.

But of course, that's meaningless in an airport. TSA screeners at Louisville International Airport detected the gun and immediately called the FBI who questioned the five-term congressman before he boarded a U.S. Airways flight.

The TSA says Hostettler's gun and briefcase were confiscated and that a citation for a misdemeanor charge was given to Hostettler and filed in Jefferson County district court.

The FBI says, to its knowledge, no federal charges were filed which could have carried up to ten years in prison.

The TSA says the congressman received no special treatment because of his status.

Lauren Stover of TSA says, "TSA makes no exceptions to who the person or individual is that's found with a loaded firearm. We do not discriminate against ranks of folks that carry a loaded weapon and every passenger to us is treated the same; and they're given the same level of respect and the same level of processing if they present themselves with a loaded prohibited weapon at a checkpoint."
To hear Congressman John Hostettler's view on this incident, click on the video link at the top of the page.

Previously: Some trouble Tuesday for Indiana Congressman John Hostettler.

Hostettler's press secretary tells Newswatch he was getting ready to board a plane in Louisville when he was detained for having a gun in his briefcase. He apparently had forgotten to take out the gun before heading to Louisville. He was questioned briefly and then was let go. He was flying back to Washington, D.C.

The Associated Press reports that it was a nine millimeter handgun. They say the Transportation Security Administration and the FBI were notified of the incident.

Hostettler is expected to release a statement about the incident later Tuesday.