News & Politics

Gun Nut Just Strolls Through Atlanta Airport with His Rifle Because He Can

His fellow passengers were terrified, but he was just exercising his rights.

Jim Cooley
Photo Credit: screengrab via wsbtv

You’d never assume that a citizen could walk into a major international airport with a loaded rifle, but that is exactly what Jim Cooley did last Thursday, The New York Daily News reports.

The 50-year-old man entered Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport to drop off his wife and daughter. Around his neck was an AR-15 rifle. While many passengers were terrified at the gun-carrying man walking freely around the airport, Cooley had no concerns about scaring people because, according to Georgia law, he is doing nothing wrong.

"People think that if you're simply carrying your firearm, regardless of how you're carrying it, you're a bad person," he told the Daily News. "But if you're not carrying it in a menacing or threatening manner, it should be no cause for concern for anybody."

Under Georgia law, licensed residents can carry guns in public places, including bars, schools, churches and certain areas in airports. As far as airports go, federal law doesn’t allow people to carry guns into security screening areas.

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the second-busiest airport in the world, behind O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

Cooley, who is originally from Chicago, recorded his interactions with airport officials and posted them to YouTube. In one video clip, a guard tells him that he is scaring passengers. He replied: “Well, people’s fear are not my responsibility.”

Last week was the second time Cooley entered the airport with his rifle. He says when he did it for the first time earlier in May, he got no reaction. The reaction from officials the second go-around annoyed him.

"Why should anyone come up to me and ask me why I'm doing something I have the right to do?" Cooley told the Daily News. "It's like asking you, 'Why are you breathing?'"

 

 

 

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Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior editor at AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @Russian_Starr.