Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, was arrested at the Delta Airlines ticket counter at LaGuardia airport this morning when he presented the ticket agent with a locked box containing a handgun and ammunition, the Queens District Attorney's office and Port Authority Police said.
Meckler, who was bound for Detroit, said that he had been in New York since Sunday, Dec. 11 and, while he did not have a New York permit, he carried the weapon with him as he receives "threats," the prosecutor's office said. The box contained a Glock 27 semi-automatic pistol and 19 rounds of nine millimeter ammunition.
According to the Port Authority, he was arrested shortly after 5:20 a.m. by police at the airport. Meckler is charged with a Class "C" Felony, which carries up to 15 years in prison. However, as he declared the gun and presented his other identification to the ticket agent he is not likely to face jail time, officials said.
"He had a misunderstanding of the law. He had a permit to carry in California," said Al Della Fave, a spokesman for the Port Authority Police. "They charged him with possession of a concealed weapon in the second degree."
Brian Stapleton, an attorney for Meckler, said in a statement Meckler was "in temproray transit" through New York and the gun was "lawful" and in a safe approved by the Transportation Security Administration.
"He legally declared his possession of the firearm in his checked baggage at the ticket counter as required by law and in a manner approved by the TSA and the airline, yet was arrested by [the] Port Authority for said possession," Stapleton said.
Meckler was awaiting a court appearance Friday evening. Even under the law in New York you cannot legally carry ammunition in the same container as the weapon.
"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," District Attorney Dick Brown said. "Otherwise, they may find themselves being arrested and charged with a felony -- as is what occurred in this case."