LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Former state Sen. Jason Rapert was caught with two loaded guns in his carry-on luggage at Little Rock National Airport Wednesday.
A Little Rock Police Department report filed Wednesday afternoon states police were called to the checkpoint when a Transportation Security Administration officer spotted two guns in a passenger’s luggage. The bag was a backpack belonging Rapert, the report said.
The report said LRPD officers unloaded both firearms, rendering them safe. The report stated that one of the two handguns was a Tarus revolver holding six rounds, and the second was a Browning semi-automatic pistol with seven rounds in its magazine and no round in the firing chamber.
Rapert told police he did not know the guns were in his bag, according to the report. Police confirmed that he had a concealed carry firearms permit.
Rapert took the two pistols to his car and continued his trip, the report stated.
A TSA spokesperson said the agency does not seize weapons from travelers, adding that when weapons are spotted, TSA stops the inspection and contacts local law enforcement.
If a gun is found, the case goes to local law enforcement and local law enforcement confiscates the weapon or weapons, the TSA spokesperson said, adding that any charges are up to the local prosecuting attorney.
TSA can fine anyone bringing a gun into security up to $15,000 and suspend them from TSA pre-check.
“Rapert had no criminal record and both weapons were clean. They were both run through ACIC,” the report concluded.
An LRPD spokesperson said when a weapon is discovered at the airport, it is run through the ACIC database and then securely stored. A weapon in the airport is a class A misdemeanor, the spokesperson said, and arrests are based on circumstances.
LRPD documents all instances of weapons discovered at the airport and reports them to the TSA and other federal agencies.
The former senator issued a statement acknowledging his mistake.
“I travel frequently around the country and always try to ensure I have cleared my briefcase or bag of any firearm that I may be carrying while driving. Unfortunately, yesterday as I rushed to board a plane, I thought my bags were clear and they were not,” Rapert said. “The TSA agents and officers were very cordial and the process went as expected. They made their report and returned my firearms which I secured before returning inside and boarding to go on about my business.”
Rapert also offered advice on how others could avoid the same mistake.
“As an Arkansas enhanced concealed carry licensee, though I had checked my bag once, I suggest everyone checking twice to ensure they are not surprised just like I was,” he said. “I appreciate the hard work and security provided by TSA Agents and law enforcement around the country.”
A TSA spokesperson said four firearms were found in three traveler’s carry-on luggage on Wednesday at the Little Rock airport, including Rapert’s bag. Police reports show that in all cases the travelers were allowed to return the guns to their vehicles and they were not charged with a violation.
According to the TSA, agents discovered 6,542 firearms over the course of the year at 262 out of 430 airport security checkpoints nationwide. This is 570 more than was found in 2021, which previously held the record. The agency reported that 88% of the guns they confiscated were loaded at the time.