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Sheriff’s Office suspends Meckler’s concealed-weapon permit

Liz Kellar
Staff Writer

Local law enforcement authorities have suspended the concealed-carry gun permit for Tea Party Patriot co-founder Mark Meckler in the wake of his arrest Thursday at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport.

Meckler was arrested as he checked in for a Delta airlines flight with a locked box containing a Glock pistol and 19 units of 9mm ammunition. Meckler, a Nevada County attorney who had been in New York since Sunday, allegedly told authorities that he carries the gun because he receives threats.

The tea party leader has a California “carry concealed weapon” permit, but that does not allow him to carry a firearm in New York.

Meckler declined to comment when reached by phone Friday.

He was arraigned in New York on charges of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a felony that could carry up to 15 years in prison, and was released pending a Jan. 12 court date.

Meckler obtained his permit from the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, but Sheriff Keith Royal said it has been suspended pending resolution of his criminal proceedings.

“In light of what happened in New York, we have suspended his license at this point in time,” Royal said. “We want to know what the outcome is of that criminal charge. If it’s … an honest mistake and no charges are furthered, in all likelihood, his license would be reinstated. If he is found to be in intentional violation of the law, there is a strong possibility he would not have it reissued. On its face, it looks like he was upfront.”

In California, a carry concealed weapon permit allows you to carry a concealed firearm on your person in public, subject to restrictions. The law allows a person to keep a firearm in their home and at their place of business without a permit. In order to obtain a permit, you must be a legal resident, at least 21, show good cause, and be of good moral character.

To show good cause for the permit, you must have a legitimate need to carry a concealed firearm.

California also requires applicants to complete a course in firearm safety and the law regarding the permissible use of a firearm. Departments may also require the applicant to demonstrate proficiency at their range and submit all weapons to be carried for a safety inspection. Applicants are required to submit to Live Scan for a state Department of Justice records check.

Nevada County requires that the weapon be registered to the applicant, Royal said.

“They have to go through an eight-hour training, they have to demonstrate they can use the weapon, they are fingerprinted, we do a background on them,” he said. “If they have a history of alcohol abuse or contact with law enforcement, we’re not going to authorize that.”

Royal said his office applies a “reasonable” test to the applicant’s showing of good cause.

“We look at, have there been issues, have there been threats,” he said. “For example, do they carry large quantities of money or jewelry.”

Meckler said he had been the subject of death threats, Royal confirmed.

“He had a clean background, he provided justification that we believed was reasonable,” Royal said of Meckler’s application. “He met our criteria. He had no history of negative contact with law enforcement.”

Royal noted that the training applicants must complete to receive the permit covers liability issues and legal issues, adding that it is difficult to cover the law in each state. There is no reciprocity in California, meaning that California does not honor any other state’s concealed weapons permits. As of 2010, states that recognize California’s permit as valid include Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. No permit is required in Alaska, Arizona or Vermont.

There are 432 carry concealed weapon permits currently issued by the Sheriff’s Office; the numbers for Grass Valley and Nevada City police departments were not available as of press time.

The state requires re-certification every two years, with the completion of a four-hour refresher course. But Nevada County does an annual evaluation of every applicant, Royal said.

“During my tenure, we’ve had only a handful of events or situations where we have suspended licenses, usually due to the conduct of the individual,” he said.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail lkellar@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229.

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