Michigan GOP rep brings unregistered loaded gun to airport, avoids charges

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Rep. Lee Chatfield - HOUSE GOP
  • House GOP
  • Rep. Lee Chatfield
A Michigan House representative who says he unknowingly brought an unregistered loaded handgun into a northern Michigan airport last month will not face charges.

Emmet County Prosecutor James Linderman said in a Monday statement that he had declined to charge House Speaker Pro Tempore Lee Chatfield, citing an apparent loophole in Michigan law





Linderman wrote:
Michigan’s statute MCL 259.80f prohibits carrying a firearm into the “sterile area”of an airport.

However, the statute prohibiting this behavior has not been amended to keep up with changes in federal law. It defines “sterile area” as that which is defined in 14 CFR 107.1 of the Federal Code. This section was amended to delete the definition of a “sterile area", thus leaving the statute unenforceable. As a result, the prosecution of Mr. Chatfield under MCL 259.80f is not possible.

Our legislature needs to address this by adding a definition within our own statutes.

The decision to let Chatfield off the hook comes after Linderman reportedly contributed $625 to Chatfield's campaign committee over the past four years.

He denied that played a role in his decision, telling the Detroit News he has contributed to the campaigns of other candidates.

The TSA lists the average fine for a loaded handgun to be $3,920-9,800 plus a criminal referral.

As for the fact that Chatfield's .38 caliber handgun was not properly registered — Linderman says, "This omission is a civil infraction per Michigan statute."

In a Facebook post, Chatfeld described the incident as an "inexcusable mistake."

He added, "As an elected official, I take responsibility and fully acknowledge that no one is above the law."

Jacob Stocking is a summer editorial intern at the MetroTimes.

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