Sen. Donne Trotter, a Chicago Democrat who recently announced he would run to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. in the U.S. House, was carrying an unloaded .25-caliber Beretta handgun and a magazine clip with six bullets when he tried to board a flight at O'Hare International Airport, according to Chicago police.
Trotter, who is part the Illinois Senate's Democratic leadership, was charged with a felony.
The gun and clip were found in an outside zippered pocket of Trotter's garment bag during routine X-ray screening, according to a Chicago police report.
Trotter told Transportation Security Administration officers that he uses the weapon for work as a security officer at a Chicago security and detective firm. He said he worked late Tuesday night and did not realize the weapon was in the bag when he packed for his Wednesday morning flight, the police report said.
Messages left by The Associated Press for Trotter on his cellphone and at his office in Chicago were not immediately returned.
Trotter, 62, was charged with a Class 4 felony, which carries a penalty of one to three years in prison upon conviction. He was expected to appear in Cook County bond court Thursday, Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.