State Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell III (D-Baltimore) will be charged with a misdemeanor violation of Maryland's gun control law, Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Warren Duckett said today.
A loaded .38-caliber pistol was found in Mitchell's attache case as he tried to board a jet to Chicago at Baltimore-Washington International Airport Saturday morning. Mitchell said Tuesday he had grabbed the case from the trunk of his car as he rushed to catch the plane, forgetting the gun was inside.
Duckett accepted the explanation and said today that the entire matter was "a shame." He said, "I just think Clarence Mitchell forgot."
Duckett said the senator would be charged with not having a permit for the gun, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a $2,500 fine. A more serious charge, of trying to board an airplane with a concealed weapon, would not be pressed, he said.
Duckett said the latter charge "would be an overreaction to the circumstances. That's a felony offense carrying a 10-year incarceration." Duckett said the law is designed to combat airplane hijackings. "I don't think anyone believes Clarence Mitchell intended to hijack the airplane," he said.
Mitchell said on Tuesday that as a businessman he was exempt from needing a permit to carry the gun, but Duckett said businessmen are exempt only while transporting the weapon between their residences and places of business. Mitchell owns a real estate company in Baltimore.