Look, I think airport-security concerns are way overblown, I generally support the right to bear arms, and I'm also a big fan of brain scientists. But that does not mean I think it's okay for a brain scientist to wave an AR-15 around at the airport.
Dr. Peter Nathan Steinmetz, a brain scientist with Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, was arrested on Friday for mishandling his AR-15 in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Steinmetz was possibly making a point about his Second Amendment rights, police theorize, when he bought a cup of coffee at Starbucks in Terminal Four with his rifle slung over his shoulder….
After buying the coffee, Steinmetz walked to the east end of Terminal Four's third level and stopped in front of the B gates, in the "non-secure" part of the terminal.
He "then proceeded to remove the AR-15 from his right shoulder thus causing the muzzle to face two [potential] victims sitting to the right …" the booking sheet reads. "Both victims, a mother and her 17-year-old daughter, both stated they felt in fear of their safety when the rifle was pointed in their direction."
As this report in the Phoenix New Times notes (thanks, Mark), Steinmetz was arrested for "mishandling" the rifle, not just for carrying it. "In general," police told the New Times, "it's not illegal to carry a semiautomatic rifle" or other firearms "into an airport terminal." The problem here, they said, was "the way he was carrying it" (emphasis added). As in, intentionally or negligently letting the muzzle point at people. Hey, Mr. Gun-Toting Brain Scientist, that's the end the bullets come out of.
He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct with a firearm.
While it may not be illegal to carry a firearm into an airport terminal, it is definitely going to get you some extra scrutiny, as we can see from this surveillance-camera still in which an airport worker extra-scrutinizes Mr. Steinmetz. Sure, he's just standing there in his embarrassing-dad outfit holding his Starbucks cup and an assault rifle, minding his own business, but it's still going to draw attention. And so if you're going to then get careless, my friend, I have no sympathy for you at that point.