Georgia Man Defends Carrying Loaded Rifle Through Airport

It's legal to carry licensed guns and rifles in Atlanta airport terminal.

ByABC News
June 3, 2015, 4:42 PM

— -- A man roamed the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta airport last week with a rifle in hand and it was perfectly legal, according to police.

Because of a year-old Georgia law, Jim Cooley says he knew he wasn't breaking any rules dropping his daughter off at the airport with his AR-15 in tow, fully loaded with a 100-round drum.

Cooley of Winder, Georgia, was questioned by a fire marshal and then by an Atlanta police officer in the unsecured areas of the airport, who both asked him about the gun, he told ABC affiliate station WSB-TV. He says he was just exercising his rights, and recorded each of the encounters and posted them to YouTube.

When stopped Thursday, Cooley asked authorities whether he was being detained. When the officers each answered no, he simply continued on his way.

An Atlanta Police report obtained by ABC News reads, “At no time was Mr. Cooley deprived of his ability to leave property or freely move around the airport with the weapon. Officers followed to assure the safety of all patrons at the airport.”

Cooley told the TV station, "I told her [the officer] I was carrying this for safely when she asked me why. It shouldn't matter what I carry, just that I choose to carry. You never know where something might happen."

He added: “If you don’t exercise your rights, the government doesn’t have any hesitation taking them away.”

Cooley did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

The Georgia state law took effect July 1, 2014, allowing a permitted citizen with a handgun or a legal long gun to carry the licensed weapon in commercial airports, bars, schools and churches.

Under federal law, however, it’s illegal to carry any weapon into the TSA screening area or beyond, which Cooley did not attempt to do. Guns are also not allowed in certain other restricted areas at commercial airports.