The case, New York against Mark Meckler, Tea Party Patriots co-founder; The charge, C Violent Felony of Possession of a Firearm with Intent to Use; The reality, Meckler was in-transit at LaGuardia Airport and declared his fully-licensed, unloaded weapon that was stored in a TSA-approved locked case located in his luggage; The result, jail and a fine.
Meckler describes his ordeal as nothing short of a nightmare. “On December 15, I requested a firearms declaration form from the ticket agent. It was my intent to declare and check my unloaded firearm. I have a valid concealed carry permit for it issued in California.” Meckler explains that he carries a firearm after receiving several threats against his life due to his role in the Tea Party Patriots, a group that looks to limit government involvement.
Meckler’s honesty landed him a New York jail for 12 hours where he says other inmates disclosed how easy it was to own firearms without necessary paperwork.
New York’s strict gun-control regulations are ultimately responsible for Meckler’s arrest, according to his attorney Brian T. Stapleton of Goldberg and Segalla. In the end, Stapleton was able to resolve Mr. Meckler's felony charge with a non-criminal Disorderly Conduct disposition which carries a $250 fine plus attorney fees and court costs.
With the incident in Meckler’s rearview mirror, the fact remains that NYC still has his Glock 27 (New York reportedly destroys seized firearms) and New York’s exercise of confiscating weapons are a disturbing trend.
“It’s outrageous… Arresting law-abiding citizens for declaring a licensed firearm is anti-Second Amendment,” according to Stapleton.
Meckler’s attorney advised him that he could try to recover his firearm, but the $5,000-7,000 costs were no guarantee. In fact, the majority of these cases result in the state’s favor. “I am not alone in facing this tyranny. It has happened to hundreds of people in the New York metro area,” Meckler said. “My lawyer, Brian Stapleton, has handled over 400 of these cases himself, so he is an expert on the subject.”
The Calguns Foundation, a large Second Amendment organization, says this is nothing more than the politicization of those in power.
"What we have here is political extortion. The government knows it's not worth it for an individual to spend thousands of dollars and risk prosecution to fight over the return of a $500 firearm, even if they possessed the firearm lawfully. And, in many cases, the local governments know this and seize firearms to rack up a tally for federal grant money," explained Jason Davis attorney for Calguns.
Davis voiced his outrage over New York City’s conduct of superseding Federal law Sec. 926A (18 USC §926A). Interstate transportation of firearms that states, “Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.”
Other legal experts warn Americans about this disturbing anti-Second Amendment trend.
"400 cases of seizure and destruction of privately owned, licensed fire arms by the City of New York demonstrate a clear disregard for the Second Amendment, private property and due process. While there are numerous legal arguments supporting the right to keep and bear arms, prohibitions on unreasonable seizure of private property, and interference with interstate commerce, it is the audacity and arrogance of New York to think the U.S. Constitutional protections do not apply to the Port Authority. One need not be a Constitutional scholar to understand that until citizens challenge the City of New York and the Port Authority this outrageous practice will only emboldened their self-proclaimed and singular assault on the rights of Americans and hasten the erosion of our freedom from oppressive government."
In Mark Meckler’s words…
On December 15, 2011 at approximately 5:15 a.m., I was at LaGuardia International airport preparing to check in for a flight out of the city. During a routine check-in, I requested a firearms declaration form from the ticket agent. It was my intent to declare and check my unloaded firearm.
I purchased this firearm legally, and I have a valid concealed carry permit for it issued in California. 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.
As I traveled through LaGuardia that morning, I passed TSA signs telling me I had the right to check this unloaded firearm in my luggage, and that I am required by law to declare the firearm to the ticketing agent. This is exactly what I did.
The ticketing agent provided me with the declaration form, and I signed it and returned it to her. She advised me that she would need to call Port Authority police to inspect. This is not unusual when traveling with a firearm. Procedures vary from airport to airport, from airline to airline, and even from day to day, and as a law-abiding citizen, I have always been happy to cooperate.
Unfortunately, that day, I didn’t realize that I was about to cross paths with New York City’s anti-Second Amendment stance. Upon showing my case and the weapon to the officer who arrived on the scene, and after a few brief questions, she advised me that she was placing me under arrest for violating New York City’s firearms laws.
To say that I was stunned would be an understatement. I am from a law enforcement family. My mother is a retired correctional officer, and I have spent my life around folks from the law enforcement community. I have always considered myself a law-abiding citizen. I have never been arrested before. I have never been in police custody. I can never say those things again. On December 15th, 2011, I was arrested, handcuffed at the ticket counter, and taken to a waiting squad car for transport to the Port Authority Police station at LaGuardia.
I was subsequently transferred, in handcuffs, to the Queens Central booking facility in New York City. I was charged with felony possession of a firearm with intent to do harm. I spent the day in Queens…in jail.
It was a nightmare that I can scarcely describe to you. Until you have felt the handcuffs on your wrists, and until you have heard that cell door close behind you, it is impossible to understand what it means to actually lose your liberty. And since that day, my liberty has been at stake, and because of that threat, based upon the advice of counsel; I’ve been unable to speak publicly about this case. Today the silence ends.
I am pleased to announce that the criminal case against me has been dropped. Although I was originally charged with a violent felony, the case against me was resolved with a plea to “disorderly conduct. ” Disorderly Conduct is not a felony or a misdemeanor, or even a crime. The facts underlying my plea are that I declared a legally purchased, properly licensed and unloaded firearm at an airport counter. Apparently, much to my surprise, in New York City, it is considered “disorderly conduct” to exercise your constitutionally guaranteed, Second Amendment rights.
Strangely, now that the case against me is over, the authorities refuse to return my firearm. There is no law that allows them to confiscate a weapon in this manner. They simply say “no” when you ask for your weapon back. This is apparently their “policy.” It is done regularly in New York. This is government robbery. Not only is New York City anti-Second Amendment rights, but they are depriving citizens of their legally owned property. My lawyer has advised me that I can attempt to pursue the return of my firearm but that to do so would cost me more than the firearm is worth. I am not alone in facing this tyranny. It has happened to hundreds of people in the New York metro area. My lawyer, Brian Stapleton, has handled over 400 of these cases himself, so he is an expert on the subject.
While the end of this case is the end of a horrible nightmare for my family and I, it is not the end of this fight. It is just the beginning. Since the original incident, I have received more emails, phone calls, texts and tweets of support than you can imagine. To those people, I want to say heart-felt thanks on behalf of my entire family. We have come to know that we are not alone in this particular fight. Apparently, this happens to hundreds of people per year in New York City. And New York City is not alone in its attack on our rights. This sort of Constitutional abuse, Second Amendment and otherwise, is taking place all over the nation. And we as citizens must stand against it. We must protect our rights, or we will lose them.
Many of you know me as someone who is willing to stand and fight for self-governance in this country. I’m no politician, and I’m not from a powerful or connected family. I’m an average American citizen. And I stand shoulder to shoulder with millions of other Americans who, despite enormous obstacles, and despite the politicians and ruling elite who oppose us, intend to return this country to the bounds of the United States Constitution.
The politicians and ruling elite will try, but we must not let them label us Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal. We cannot let them make us fight against each other. Too much is at stake. We the People are losing our sovereignty to the government. We the Peoplemust stand and fight for our inalienable rights.
I’m not alone in this fight. There are so many laws, that no one can know or understand them. We are all affected. From the inner city to the farm, from the heartland of America to the coasts, people are under pressure from a government that no longer serves them. From my home in California, to the farmland of Kansas… from the small towns of South Carolina to the metropolis of New York, every year the legislatures pass thousands of laws and regulations that do not serve the people.
The legislators don’t read the bills they pass, and even if they did, they couldn’t understand them. Our criminal justice system is terribly broken, and no longer serves the people and the communities it was intended to serve. Our regulatory system is broken; small businesses and the communities that rely on them crushed under the weight of unnecessary regulation.
We are, step by step, destroying the heart of America. And we are doing so because we are not governing ourselves according to the Constitution. It’s up to us…the People.
It’s time to stand for self-governance. It is time to stand for the plain meaning of the Constitution. Every word of the Constitution is important, and we must fight for them all. We must fight for every inch of this country, from the inner city to the smallest rural town. We are all of us, first and foremost, American citizens. We’ve always governed ourselves…and we always intend to. And we’ve always been willing to stand when freedom is at stake. It is time to stand…time for all of us, every race, every religion, every gender, every American to stand up and fight for liberty and take responsibility for governing ourselves.
No one should ever have to go through what my family has been through, simply for exercising a fundamental right, specifically enumerated in the United States Constitution. I am committed to making sure no one does. And I’m willing to work with anyone…anyone, who agrees that it’s time for people to govern themselves once again.
Will we as citizens fight for our inalienable right to govern ourselves, or will we quietly allow ourselves to be “governed” into submission by a ruling elite, disconnected from our citizens and our communities? Only history will tell, but I intend to fight.
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