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MailTribune.com
  • Charges dropped in airport planter gun case

  • Charges have been dismissed against an Eagle Point man who hid a gun in a planter box at Portland International Airport earlier this summer.
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  • Charges have been dismissed against an Eagle Point man who hid a gun in a planter box at Portland International Airport earlier this summer.
    Soren Muir Johnson, 69, was at the airport preparing to travel to the Philippines on June 24 when he remembered he still had his loaded .22-caliber pistol with him.
    After being told by a Transportation Security Administration officer that he should declare the gun at a ticket counter with his other baggage, Johnson instead chose to bury the weapon in an airport planter box. He said he intended to dig it up after returning from his trip, according to a report from the Port of Portland police.
    When a TSA behavior detection officer spotted him, Johnson was arrested by police on a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment and taken to Multnomah County Jail.
    Johnson pleaded not guilty to the charge a day after being arrested, and was permitted to travel to the Philippines, where he said he was working to help out his family in the country.
    Charges were dismissed against Johnson on Aug. 28, and his gun was returned to him, court records show.
    "It's been dismissed, very happily," Johnson said Tuesday. "The police were just awesome. They were very nice to me."
    Johnson said he couldn't comment on the circumstances of the dismissal.
    A TSA spokeswoman said Tuesday the rules on guns are simple, but suggested TSA didn't consider Johnson's actions to be threatening.
    "We say just don't bring them to a checkpoint," Lorie Dankers of TSA said. "But people do forget."
    "This received a lot of attention," Dankers said of Johnson's case. "Always check (guns) legally before you travel."
    Dankers said more and more people are bringing guns to security checkpoints across the nation each year, either by mistake or because they're unaware of the rules.
    "Firearms, ammunition, parts and replicas are always prohibited," Dankers said.
    From January to July of 2012, more than 800 people nationwide attempted to bring a gun through a security checkpoint, Dankers said.
    In order to bring a firearm on a commercial airplane when traveling, the gun must be unloaded and in a locked, hard-sided container within checked baggage.
    When checking baggage, travelers must declare any firearms they have, and ammunition must be carried in a separate box or packaging specifically designed to carry ammunition.
    Johnson said in July that he had buried the gun carefully and was certain no one would have accidently dug it up.
    He said the mistake to bring the gun to the airport was "stupid" and he would never bring a firearm with him on future trips.
    Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or tristow@mailtribune.com.
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