Wife of Lancaster mayor cited for carrying loaded gun at airport
The wife of Lancaster’s top city official was cited last week for carrying a loaded handgun through a security checkpoint at Burbank's Bob Hope Airport, authorities said.
Sgt. Darin Ryburn, a spokesman for the Burbank Police Department, confirmed that Carrol Parris, wife of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, was stopped by TSA officials last Thursday about 6:25 a.m. after the image of a firearm showed up in her carry-on bag as it went through an X-ray check.
Police were summoned and Parris acknowledged she was the owner of the bag and gun, authorities said. Police confirmed that the firearm was registered to Parris, but a permit allowing her to carry a concealed weapon had expired, Ryburn said.
Reached by phone Monday, Mayor Parris explained that the incident resulted from an innocent error. It was 5 a.m. and his wife was headed to the airport for a trip to see the couple’s newborn twin grandchildren in Sacramento, Parris said. She was rushing and swapped bags, not realizing the handgun was in the bag that she was taking as a carry-on.
“She just simply forgot,” Parris said.
The mayor said his wife has taken shooting lessons and had opted to carry a firearm after her husband’s successful efforts to prevent the Mongols motorcycle club from meeting and conducting business in Lancaster. Law enforcement agencies consider the biker gang to be violent and not always law-abiding.
Parris temporarily shut down a Lancaster motel that was scheduled to host the bikers’ annual meeting, citing the establishment’s violation of several regulations, such as being late on paying transient occupancy taxes.
In 2010, the Mongol Nation organization filed an $11-million lawsuit against Lancaster alleging that city officials had obstructed the motorcyclists' civil rights and libeled and slandered the group, causing members emotional distress. The group later offered to terminate the lawsuit in exchange for $2 million and an apology from Mayor Parris -- an offer the city rejected.
Parris said he doesn’t typically carry a firearm, joking that his wife is the better shot and that he was more likely to harm himself.
Police cited Carrol Parris for carrying a prohibited item in a secured area, and she was released at the scene, authorities said.
The mayor said his wife was quick to own up to her mistake.
“She immediately was accountable for it,” Parris said. “She cooperated immediately. As the wife of an elected official, there wasn’t a hint of entitlement.”
-- Ann M. Simmons in Santa Clarita