Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in a Queens County court Thursday in connection with his possession of a handgun at LaGuardia Airport last month.
Meckler was fined $250 and his Glock 27 handgun will be destroyed.
In a prepared statement, Meckler said he followed routine protocol relating to checking a firearm at an airport, but encountered "New York City's anti-Second Amendment stance."
"I purchased this firearm legally, and I have a valid concealed carry permit for it issued in California," Meckler said. "The unloaded gun was locked inside a TSA-approved travel case, and the case was locked inside my checked luggage. I carry the firearm for my personal safety, having received numerous threats due to my role in the Tea Party Patriots. I have checked this firearm at airports dozens of times before, all across the country."
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown defended his county's position relative to the case.
"When a visitor to our city is arrested, particularly at our airports, for possessing a weapon, there are several factors we consider in fashioning an appropriate disposition - including, but not limited to, was the weapon legally obtained, does the individual possess a valid permit in their home state, the duration of their stay in our city and, in airport cases, whether the individual voluntarily disclosed the weapon to authorities," Brown said. "In adjudicating such cases, there must be a balance between our obligation to protect our citizens and an individual's error in judgment. Over the years, we have struck that balance well in ensuring that justice is served and maintaining our state's tough, successful gun laws."
Brown further called upon airline companies to warn travelers regarding their personal responsibility to consult local gun regulations.
"Many airlines when asked by a passenger about transporting a weapon will only inform them of federal regulations with no mention of the need to check local laws," he said. "It is therefore incumbent upon passengers to acquaint themselves with the weapon laws of the jurisdiction that they are visiting and to comply with any and all legal requirements if they choose to travel with a weapon."
According to the original charges, Meckler presented a locked gun box to Delta Airlines ticket agent at approximately 5:20 a.m. Dec. 15 of last year.
The box contained a Glock 27 pistol and 19 9mm cartridges.
Meckler, who had been in New York since Dec. 11, told authorities that he had the pistol because he gets threats and that he did not have a New York State carry permit.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4239.