A major Tea Party power player was arrested on Thursday for carrying a handgun into LaGuardia Airport.
Around 5:20 a.m., officials say, Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, was taken into custody after trying to check a locked gun box containing a Glock 27 pistol and 19 cartridges of ammunition. According to the press release, Meckler told police officials that he needed the pistol because of threats against his life.
He didn't have a correct understanding of the law, said Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, according to the Associated Press. Though he has a permit to carry in California, that did not cover him in the state of New York.
Meckler spent the day in jail and was arraigned in Queens Friday. This is a Class C felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail.
Before leaving home, passengers should acquaint themselves with the weapon laws of the jurisdiction that they are visiting and comply with any and all legal requirements if they choose to travel with a weapon, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown in a statement. Otherwise, they may find themselves being arrested and charged with a felony--as is what occurred in this case.
Although carrying a weapon into an airport in New York may not seem like the best idea, this case, as well as other events that transpired this week, has sparked a renewed debate about control in New York.
In almost every other state in the nation, he would not have been arrested, Thomas King, the president of New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, tells International Business Times' Crimes of New York. The NYSRPA is, according to the website, the state's largest gun advocacy group. Since 1871, the organization says they have fought for Second Amendment rights in New York.
The City of New York is known for prosecuting legal and lawful gun owners and not prosecuting the 'bad guys' with guns, says King. He then cited statistics saying that of the 1,900 violent gun arrests in New York, only about 300 have been prosecuted, however he has not known of a legal gun owner who has fallen astray of the gun laws in New York City who has not been prosecuted.
King is very critical of the way New York City treated Meckler and the gun control in the city and state saying New York City gun laws are draconian and the rest of the state it is not much better. He also blamed progressive liberals and the judges they appoint as a major cause as what he and is organization perceives to be unfair and gun control laws.
However, pro-gun control groups in New York believe that the Meckler is an example of an individual who does not follow laws and have applauded the steps the city and the Queens district attorney took to arrest him.
The rules are the rules. The city does not allow or recognize out of state gun permits, tells Colin Weaver, the deputy director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, told IBTimes. New Yorkers Against Gun Violence is a gun control group based in New York City whose purpose is to reduce gun violence through advocacy and education designed to encourage action, influence public opinion and lead to policy change, according to the website. Weaver says that the organization has been at the forefront of many gun control issues, constantly pressing the government for better gun laws and background checks.
Weaver responded to King's statements about other states' laws citing the California Attorney General's website on gun control laws, that states it is the responsibility of gun owners to have a thorough knowledge of others states gun laws. Weaver implied that Meckler was careless in bringing a gun into the New York.
I can't speak for other states, other states have reciprocity agreements with the other states to allow or disallow other states, but you can't say whether or not this would have happened in other states, says Weaver. Weaver also said there are no issues with the current gun control laws in the city and state.
The laws that are currently in place are from a common sense framework. He says these laws have worked to make city the safest in the country.
(For another opinion on New York City gun control laws, try searching for A New Yorker's Opinion: Figoski Killing Highlights Need to Crack Down on Illegal Firearms)