Prince Williams/WireImage
June 24, 2016 07:30 PM

Zonnique Pullins is opening up after being arrested for bringing a gun to an airport last week.

T.I.‘s stepdaughter says she forgot the gun was in her purse when she went to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta on June 16.

“I know that’s really irresponsible on my part, but it was really just an honest mistake,” the T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle star tell PEOPLE. “I was at home, rushing to get to the airport, and I was throwing everything in my purse. The gun is really, really small. It looks like a toy gun. It was just at the bottom of my purse. When I went through security check, I was like ‘Oh I forgot it was in there.’

Pullins, 20, pulled the .380 Ruger semi-automatic pistol out of her purse after it was discovered going through the x-ray machine. She says when security took the gun, she didn’t realize how serious the situation would become.

“I thought maybe I would be able to go back to the car and put it in there or they’d be able to throw it away, but it was worse than I thought,” says Pullins, who is the daughter of Tiny Harris. “She called some police over and that’s when I thought, ‘Okay, it’s about to be serious.’ That’s when I called my mom and said, ‘I might have to go to jail tonight. Please help me.’ ”

Pullins says she feels as a young woman, it’s important to have protection and cites the tragic murder of The Voice alum Christina Grimmie earlier this month as something that weighs on her mind.

“I feel like I definitely have to stay safe – especially with me going around so much by myself,” says Pullins. “I’m not usually with anybody or security or anything, so I always feel like I have to keep myself safe. Then, with all the things going on, especially with Christina Grimmie, stuff like that.”

Pullins’ mother legally purchased the gun for her daughter for protection.

“I just want her to be safe and feel safe at home by herself because if someone comes in or if something happens, she’s all alone, then what is she going to do?” says Harris.

Pullins says authorities have told her she will likely get community service or be ordered to take a course over the incident if the case ends up going to court.

The mother and daughter appear on VHI’s T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle, which returns with new episodes July 18 at 9 p.m. ET.

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