Guns and Texans

Highlights from Hair Balls

Texas Traveler

Traveling can be stressful. You have to get there in time to get your bag checked and make it through security before you even have the chance to hustle through the terminal to your gate (and it seems like your gate is always guaranteed to be the one farthest away when you've got only two minutes to get there and board).

Of course, it doesn't help matters if you've forgotten to take your gun out of your boot or your shoulder holster or your carry-on. It seems like the most basic thing in the world nowadays. We know not to take full-sized shampoo bottles or contact solution when making our way through airport security, but some people still forget to leave their guns at home, according to information collected by the Transportation Safety Administration and analyzed by the Associated Press. Go figure; a lot of those people live in — or at least flew out from — Houston.

The post-9/11 world has been one with a focus on airport security, but now that we're more than a decade away from its beginning, more people end up getting pulled out of the security line because they have loaded guns on them. Last year, TSA found 1,549 firearms on passengers or in their carry-on luggage. So far the agency has found 894 guns in the first six months of 2013. Unsurprisingly, out of the 12 airports that have the most guns confiscated every year, five of them are in Texas, and both Houston airports made the list.

There were 52 guns collected from George Bush Intercontinental Airport last year and 35 guns collected at Hobby Airport. The airport boasting the largest number of collected firearms last year — 96 — wasn't in Texas. Nope, that distinction belongs to Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta. Eighty guns were collected at ­Dallas-Fort Worth International, giving that city the dubious distinction of most guns collected from an airport in Texas. And we'll let them have that particular honor, with no grumbling from us.

Meanwhile, George Bush Intercontinental still has one of the best airport hookup spots in the country. And Hobby has that awesome train.


Cop Trouble
Former West Columbia police chief now being investigated on child porn and child sexual assault charges.

Casey Michel

Five months after former West Columbia Police Chief Michael Palmer was charged with a third-degree felony for both drug possession and tampering with evidence, investigators are looking into additional allegations of child sexual assault and child pornography.

As first reported by the online site The Facts, Brazoria County issued a search warrant for Palmer's house on July 8 based on evidence discovered during the initial search in February.

According to the warrant, the evidence obtained led the affiant, "a licensed peace officer under the laws of Texas," to state that Palmer committed offenses of "aggravated sexual assault of a child" and "possession [of] child pornography," among others. The officer, according to the document, is in possession of a "signed sworn statement from [redacted], in which he states when he was 8 years old in Lake Jackson...Michael Palmer pulled down [redacted] pants and Michael Palmer performed oral sex on him..." The affiant also says she watched a video of Palmer directing at least two children "interacting in a sexual nature." Photography on Palmer's office computer additionally showed a nude Palmer "with another male's left hand holding a metal penis ring on Palmer's penis."

The document details assorted additional instances of Palmer interacting sexually with the children in question. Last week's search recovered assorted sexual toys and devices, including penis rings, a black mask, and a "possible mouth gag."

An earlier investigation claimed that Palmer swiped 33 oxymorphone pills, causing a separate investigation to be dismissed for lack of evidence. A video later emerged that showed Palmer, according to documents obtained from Brazoria County, "appear[ing] on camera to go to the Dumpster outside and appear[ing] to [rip] up the packaging." Palmer's next hearing is set for August 12.

The West Columbia Police Department told the Houston Press that Palmer resigned from his position on February 27. He was reported missing last week. Paul Oden is the current West Columbia police chief.

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