U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller slapped Harold E. Waller, 46, with a three year prison sentence for attempting to carry loaded weapons through airport security in Sacramento, California.
Last year in March, Waller was stopped by airport security because he was openly carrying a loaded 9mm handgun in a shoulder holster. Further investigation found that he also had three guns and ammunition in his carry-on bags.
Waller pleaded guilty during the trial.
Federal guidelines specify that a person cannot receive a sentence of more than six months for carrying a gun into an airport. If Judge Mueller had followed those guidelines, Waller would have been released with time served after the year he spent in jail awaiting jail.
Mueller ignored the federal guidelines, arguing that Waller brushed off the severity of his crime by calling it a mistake. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Judge Mueller said that “the public could have been seriously harmed.
Katherine Lothrop, Waller’s attorney, still has high hopes for her client. She expressed her hope that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons evaluate Waller’s condition to determine whether or not he would be better suited in a mental health treatment facility. Waller’s mother, Helen, revealed that Waller had undergone treatment for depression.
That certainly sets of warning bells in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting. Gun owners with a history of mental instability have been a hot-button issue in the national gun control debate recently.
U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner urged gun owners everywhere to take notice of Waller’s story. He called Waller’s sentence "a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks bringing guns on an airplane might be a good idea." Gun owners who might want to challenge federal gun control laws by bringing guns into airports might want to think twice in light of Waller’s unforgiving prison sentence.
What’s your take on this case? Do you think that Judge Mueller overstepped her bounds by ignoring federal guidelines and delivering a three-year sentence, or is prison time just what the doctor ordered considering Waller’s mental history?
Source: ABC News