I haven’t traveled to other states with a gun much. Make that at all, really. But living scarily close to the state of Illinois, I’m damned careful about how a gun is carried in my car (yes, there is a way to do it legally) if there’s even a chance I’ll be driving over the Big Muddy. And there are plenty of people – even post-McDonald – that won’t take flights that even connect through Chicago. One of the little side benefits of the advance of gun rights throughout the country is that it’s not that hard any more to know all the problem states and cities. I’m sure you can rattle most them off yourself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Mark Meckler could…

Meckler’s the president of the Tea Party Patriots. How that organization is related (or not) to the various other Tea Party operations around the country, I don’t know. In any case, according to newyork.cbslocal.com, he was scheduled to fly from New York to California yesterday morning, starting his journey at the pride of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the lovely, modern LaGuardia Airport.

Authorities said Meckler was boarding a 5:30 a.m. flight to California when they discovered a gun in a lockbox with 19 cartridges.

Meckler did declare that he had the gun and cartridges with him but, since he didn’t have a New York State permit to carry the weapon, he was arrested. Meckler did have a California permit for it.

Mark must be an awfully busy guy. Apparently he hasn’t heard the news that New York isn’t the most gun-friendly locale in these here fifty-seven states. But it’s not like there aren’t all kinds of resources out there available to law-abiding travelers who want to know where they can go with their gun and avoid handcuffs and an abrupt stripsearch.

It’s bad enough that Meckler’s given a lifetime supply of ammunition to his ideological opponents. Worse, though, when someone prominent and ostensibly on the right – and, one can assume, pro-2A – pulls an idiotic stunt like this, it hurts all gun-toters.

So congratulations, Mark. In addition to a criminal record, thousands of dollars in legal fees and the probable loss of your gun rights, you’ve added our world-famous IGOTD award to your trophy shelf today. At least you’ll be able to polish it when you’d otherwise be out shooting at the range.

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62 Responses to Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day: Mark Meckler

  1. do you happen to know if he was intentionally in NY or if he had an unexpected transfer? I haven’t looked into this one much beyond a single article and this blog post so far but i know the latter has caused issues for folks in the past.

  2. What I read doesn’t jive with what you are saying here: He had the gun and 19 rounds of ammunition in a locked box provided by the TSA in California when he boarded the flight. He had declared the weapon on forms provided and had a concealed carry permit from California. The weapon was not DISCOVERED by officials at LaGuardia airport. It was the Port Authority cops that made the arrest. He did nothing illegal since he did not leave the airport and was continuing on to a further destination. Federal law allows him to bring his firearm ‘through’ the airport as he was not stopping in NYC for any reason.

    • First, please provide a link with that info. Nothing I’ve found has indicated he was inadvertently routed through NYC.

      Second, while I haven’t flown with a gun, I’m fairly sure you can’t fly with ammo in the same container as the gun.

      Third, and again assuming he didn’t accidentally land in NYC because of a mechanical or weather situation, what intelligent gun owner would fly to New York City with a handgun? That’s a jail sentence waiting to happen.

        • “Meckler was taken into custody at about 5:20 a.m. today after he attempted to check in for his Delta flight and presented a box containing a Glock 27 pistol and 19 cartridges of ammunition.”

          There may very well be more to this story. But the way I read that, he walked up to the counter to check in with the gun in the box. Which means he was carrying a concealed handgun in New York City. It’s hard to argue he shouldn’t have known better.

      • You absolutely CAN pack ammo in the same container as the gun. The gun cannot be loaded, of course. There are the TSA rules, and then each airline has its own rules. Most want the ammo in the original container (box) and not in the magazines.

        I’ve traveled with gun a fair bit. I routinely put a full box of premium ammo in my Pelican case along with my G27. It gets locked. Then the Pelican case is cable-locked to the frame of my suitcase.

        Here is a good reference for traveling with firearms:
        http://deviating.net/firearms/packing/

        • Thanks for clarifying. Again, there are plenty of resources available out there for those that do fly with their heaters. Too bad Meckler didn’t use any of them.

        • I agree. Only a dumb*** would fly to NYC with a gun. For that matter… why would anyone want to visit a city / state that harbors such abject and overt disdain for our natural-born and Constitutionally-protected rights?

        • Thanks Racer88.

          Perhaps Mr. Zimmerman will consult you IN ADVANCE before he attempts to “report news” again.

          Though Mr. Zimmerman’s bio (on this site) states his expertise is in writing “term papers, grocery lists and assorted snarky comments”…perhaps collectively we can make this a news item by inserting Facts here.

      • “what intelligent gun owner would fly to New York City with a handgun?”

        One that doesn’t realize New York has even less common sense about guns than California does, I guess.

      • Ammo and gun must both be locked in a hard-sided container. Further, ammo must be in a box, not a magazine (they recommend the factory box). Both ammo AND gun may be in the SAME container.

        I don’t fly often, but the last time
        I flew, which was in January of this year from Philadelphia to ft lauderdale, I packed both guns and ~50-75 rounds of ammo in the same container. I made sure to read the regs beforehand, and did not have any issues.

        On another note, if you fly with a gun, the bag the gun is in should be locked with a NON TSA approved lock; they inspect it right when they take it from
        you, and then you lock it.

  3. Did Mr. Meckler begin his trip in a state where firearms are legal? If so then he has a legal defense under the Interstate Transfer of Firearms Act. (Title 19 sec 926a), This provision allows a citizen who is legally carrying his firearms across state lines as long as he does so properly, i.e., secured in a locked container and that possession of firearm is legal at both the point of origin and final destination. It has a “not withstanding” provision which negates any state or local laws for the purpose of interstate travel.

    A successful defense would rest on (a) His travel did not originate in NY and (b)that he has a properly stored firearm. He appears to have met condition (b). So where did his return trip originate? If his return trip originated in a state where his gun is legal then after an expensive court fight he wins in Federal Court.

      • The laws that you speak of violate the Constitution, along with our civil and natural rights. Such laws violate the very principles upon which this nation was founded.

        Your argument is invalid. Q.E.D.

  4. I disagree, Dan. Have you considered the provisions of FOPA?

    “…ny 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…”

    I don’t see where it says that it must be statutorially legal (as opposed to constitutionally legal, which it is regardless of local statute) to possess throughout the journey, only that one must set off and arrive at non-prohibitive places.

    Otherwise, how could one travel from, say, Philadelphia to Virginia Beach without going via Pittsburg and west virginia? This is PRECISELY what that provision in FOPA was intended to prevent.

    Clearly he desired to make a statement, and when he wins in the federal courts, it will be sweet.

    • If he wins in the federal court, his wallet will be about $100,000 dollars lighter. First, he’ll be tried in a state court (if his lawyer can’t cut a deal). If he loses, then he’ll have to appeal to an intermediate appellate court. If he’s “lucky” enough to go before the Second Circuit, he’ll lose. He’ll also lose in the New York Appellate Division, should he end up there. Both are antigun. Finally, after getting bloodied in the appellate process, he’ll appeal to the US Supreme Court, who will treat the appeal as an application for certiorari and will deny cert.

      My guess is that if he has a really good lawyer, he’ll cut a deal allowing him to plead to a non-handgun misdemeanor (so he can keep his Cali license). He won’t go to trial and the case will be filed for a year, but in the meantime he’ll pay a few thousand to the City in “costs,” and maybe twenty grand to his lawyer.

      There are better ways to challenge a bad law than breaking it. Neither Heller nor McDonald broke any laws. That’s why SCOTUS took their cases. Look at the cases. People who haven’t broken any laws are mostly winning their 2A cases; people who are breaking laws are mostly losing.

    • My very good friend Joel Rosenberg used to say “test cases are for other people“. Unfortunately he got caught up in a “test case” when the Minneapolis PD completely and totally ignored what the law said and charged him with felony possession, and the stress of the situation was, quite literally, the death of him.
      So, to reiterate: Test cases are for other people.

  5. I will leave this to the lawyers on the site to uphold or shoot down. If someone wanted to establish the right to transport a firearm through a banned jurisdiction like NY under the provisions of FOPA wouldn’t the best way to do that is to secure an injuction from a friendly Federal judge and present it to the local leos making the arrest? Wouldn’t that force them to consult with city attorneys before they run the risk of a contempt of court charge?

    • Under the circumstances, obtaining an injunction would not be possible. That’s not to say that redress under FOPA is unavailable, but the time for that is before the act, not after.

  6. He wasn’t simply transiting through from one location to another. Meckler had been in NY on business before heading back to the left coast. He told the PA that he needed the gun for protection and has a permit in 23 other states. For someone who is an attorney and supposedly knows about “states rights”, he didn’t make the right choice on this one.

    • Correct. I have permits for about 30 states but NY isn’t one of them. I won’t even hunt with a handgun there or target shoot with one. Tehy want gun control and they have it. I choose to live without their rules in another state.

  7. I can’t help but think that maybe putting the IGOTD moniker on Mark might be a bit harsh. Yes the information is available, but anyone who has tried to plan trips and the maze of legal “fuzziness” can tell you it is not for the faint of heart. Perhaps we should save our awards for those TRULY worthy. This isn’t one – this is one apparent “good” guy calling out another “good” guy because he thinks all gun owners should know all laws (or have the time to research every obscure gun law) for all travel. Do we even know his full itinerary (not just the NY to CA leg of the trip)?

    Save the ammo for those truly worthy. This isn’t a legitimate target.

    • By now, I think we can consider knowing that NY is EXTREMELY gun-UNfriendly as common sense. I may not know the laws of Delaware. But, but New York’s position on guns is as well-known as Rosie O’Donnell’s position on cake and pie. How could he NOT know???

      • By your standards, CA is a well-known UNFriendly state as well, yet I sit here with a concealed carry license. Yes, NY is unfriendly, but the laws are always vague (better to allow loopholes for the “right” people).

        If the law simply said – no carrying unless licensed in NY, period. That would be simple – but it doesn’t and it isn’t.

        There are bigger fish to fry out there than making a big deal about a non-party party leader who otherwise appears to be a supporter of what 90% of TTAG stands for – freedom.

        I get it when somebody shoots themselves, waves guns around dangerously, uses some inane argument to justify their position, or some other obvious idiocy – but this is nothing more than the writer’s inability to dig a little deeper and find a REAL IGOTD. He saw a headline, read a quick quip of an article, and without remorse, called him an idiot because he didn’t follow some inane (and as most of us would say, stupid) law.

        • I won’t debate whether this guy deserves a fictitious and locally symbolic “award.” But, I agree with you that the laws are inane, sometimes vague, and just plain stupid.

      • Delaware has reciprocity with a large number of states, also they have better rules than MD or NJ by far. Not quite PA on some issues but DE does have a few advantages.
        Our last governor was a financially a nitwit but she supported guns.

        • I just pulled “Delaware” out of my butt (as just another state whose laws are not likely given the press given to NY or CA). 🙂 No offense intended towards DE.

          Everyone knows certain states are FAMOUS for being unfriendly – Illinois, NY, NJ, CA. Some more than others. But, certainly NY ranks at or near the top. I just wouldn’t travel there with a gun… EVER… or until they change the law. Here’s me holding my breath: 🙂

        • The thing though, is that NY STATE is a completely different beast WRT guns than NY CITY. NY city rivals the worst of NJ, and DC; NY State, at least from what I’ve seen, is at least as reasonable as MD.

  8. I think you got caught up in the media spin. Having an unloaded gun in a locked box is not “concealed carry”. The news outlets just spun that whole incident and they got you.

    I’m disappointed as I hold you to higher expectations.

  9. Mark Mecker’s official statement is below.

    “Mark Meckler, an attorney and National Coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, who holds a concealed-carry permit from the state of California, today was charged with a firearms violation at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. While in temporary transit through the state of New York in possession of an unloaded, lawful firearm that was locked in a TSA-approved safe, 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 TSA and the airline, yet was arrested by port authority for said possession.”

    Mr. Zimmerman, your tone, eagerness to condemn Mr. Meckler, and your selected omissions are very curious. I’m having difficulty reconciling your views and your association with this site.

    Perhaps you should return to writing grocery lists and term papers as your bio on this site states is your talent.

    It seems kind of telling that your bio photo is one of only two without a firearm.

    Makes me wonder if you are a mole for the left?

    • He was illegally in possession of a handgun while conducting four days of business in New York City. The interstate transport provision of the FOPA requires that the firearm must be legal in both departure and arrival points of the travel. He didn’t meet this requirement so he has no recourse to Federal law. Hate to say it but he is SOOL.

      • We’ve all been assuming his business was in NYC, yes he travelled through an NYC airport, but maybe his business was nearby to NYC and he used that airport for convenience? It’s not that far to NJ or Connecticut from LaGuardia.

        • Yes, it all depends on whether he kept the pistol in his possession while in New York City. If he stayed in the city while conducting business, then yes, he’s probably screwed. If he stayed outside the city and just took the pistol to the airport, then he’s protected.

          In any case, the point stands that it’s important to know and obey the laws wherever you go, even if they are misguided, unless you’re taking a stand on the civil disobedience grounds. Even then, you have to accept the consequences of breaking the law.

        • If he stayed outside the city and just took the pistol to the airport, then he’s protected.

          No. Uh-uh. Having the gun in NYC without a permit is illegal. Transporting the gun from a place in NYC to the airport in NYC is also illegal. Carrying it into the airport in NYC is illegal. Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.

          New York believes it’s handgun laws trump federal laws, and it will put all it’s might behind enforcement. Now you know why we all love Mayor Bloomberg so dearly.

        • I’ll keep my finger off the trigger.

          Federal law says that if you’re just passing through, then you’re protected as long as the gun is unloaded and inaccessible. While driving through NYC, if the gun was locked in his luggage in the trunk of the car, then he was compliant with the law. After he got to the airport, as long as he kept it locked in his luggage with the right kind of lock, he’s still compliant.

          NYC can still arrest him, and Bloomberg is still a tool, but the law is still on his side, and assuming that he was just passing through, he should win on appeal at the very least, if not get a dismissal or something like that.

        • Only one person in New York has gotten off by asserting FOPA. FOPA is toothless. It’s not right, but it’s true.

          Now, if HR822 was the law of the land, Meckler wouldn’t be going through this ration of sh!t.

    • If he was simply connecting flights at LaGuardia, he would not be checking baggage in at the ticket counter. The checked baggage would go through to the next flight automatically without him taking it into possession between flights. So, something isn’t jiving with the stories being presented here.

      If he was checking in at LaGuardia, then that is the origin of his flight, and presumably he stayed in NY.

  10. When traveling with a declared firearm, going from one airline to another, how do you tell the first airline to put your firearm case on the next plane without taking possession?

    • how do you tell the first airline to put your firearm case on the next plane without taking possession?

      You can’t. The firearm must be checked through. If it can’t be checked through, then the transporter cannot go through NYC, Newark, O’Hare and the other death-traps where cops are just dying for an innocent person to make an honest mistake.

  11. One other idea that I saw discussed on a MD guns forum is the possibility that he did this on purpose to challenge some of the NY gun laws in court.

  12. Nobody can bring a handgun into New York City without a New York City carry permit. A New York State permit will not do, since NYC is not required to recognize a NYS permit under a provision of the State Constitution. This is known as “Home Rule,” which makes the City a sovereign, practically separate and apart from the State, for many purposes.

    The handgun cannot be in a holster, a case, a locked safe, encased in cement or even in pieces. Carrying an unloaded gun in a locked car trunk through New York City from Place A to Place B without stopping might be legal under some circumstances, but that’s about it. Walking through a NYC airport with the gun in a locked case is still carrying the gun and it’s still illegal without an NYC permit.

    I didn’t write NYC’s idiotic laws, but I practiced law there for a long time and I can read. So now, please try to convince me that we don’t need national handgun license reciprocity. Meanwhile, states rights can kiss my @$$.

    • Completely agree with you on national reciprocity.

      I have question about the passing through. FOPA is a federal law, and therefore it seems that federal preemption would apply. Is that just routinely ignored or what’s going on there?

      • Jurisdictions like NYC and Chicago are betting that you will not have intestinal fortitude and deep pockets to fight them on FOPA grounds. That’s why you don’t fly through these places with a gun. I don’t even drive through Chicago out of fear that I will get tagged as a revenue source and then id-ed as Virginia CCL holder. I am sure the CPD would just love to take apart my car looking for an illegal handgun. When I travel out to Minnesota by car I go through the UP because I can carry concealed from front door to Wisconsin. From there it’s open carry to Minneapolis.

        • Ah, yes, I see. You’re right, having the law on your side doesn’t mean much if you can’t afford to fight it out in court.

          By the way, I just noticed this on the NRA-ILA page discussion FOPA:

          Special Advisory for New York and New Jersey Airports: Despite federal law that protects travelers, authorities at JFK, La Guardia, Newark and Albany airports have been known to enforce state and local firearms laws against airline travelers who are merely passing through the jurisdiction. In some cases, even persons traveling in full compliance with federal law have been arrested or threatened with arrest. As noted above in the section entitled “Federal Law on the Transportation of Firearms,” FOPA`s protections have been substantially narrowed by court decisions, and persons traveling with firearms may want to avoid New York and New Jersey or make arrangements to ship their firearms to their destination, rather than bringing them through these jurisdictions.

          If he really didn’t stay in the city, he is just another example of this, I guess.

  13. As reported Meckler got to NY with his firearm on Dec. 11th. He had it with him while he was in NY, he was not just passing through to another flight.

    Meckler has a California CCW permit that is not valid in NY or any other east coat state for that matter . He’s also an attorney and he knows the law, He took the handgun from Califormnia into NY in violation of NY law and did so with “intent”.

    Meckler is a clown!

    • Meckler declares he has a CCW in 23 states.No attorney can know all the laws. Even judges don’t know all the laws–as evidenced by the fact that we have over 50 Court of Appeals.

      Steve, why the animosity and rhetoric? Most everyone else here is contributing useful facts that are helpful to their fellow gun owners.–Hopefully we can all learn from this incident.

        • tdiinva–you may be on to something. Perhaps Steve-o uses MSNBC as his exclusive news source?

          My sense is that Steve-o is opposed to the Tea Party. This would explain the unnecessary character attacks upon Meckler.

          As one of the co-founders of the Tea Party, Meckler is bound to have enemies–and event threats upon his life. I’ve heard that California is pretty strict about issuing CCW permits…so it stands to reason Meckler had a bona-fide reason for traveling with a firearm.

          Meckler, being an attorney, is unlikely to let this stand. Unless all charges are dropped, I suspect this will become a landmark legal case.

          David

        • I was referring to Meckler not Steve. Anybody who shows up in NYC on his own volition and doesn’t know that he cannot have gun in his possession is an idiot. If he is a attorney to boot he is a fool for taking himself as a client.

  14. Meckle has posted the following statement to his Tea Party friends. Meckler has been in violation of guns laws by his statement that… “I’ve done this all across the country, more times than I can count”.

    Here’s Meckler’s post:

    Subject: Re: How could this happen?

    So…yes…I did get arrested at La Guardia today for carrying a perfectly legal, registered, unloaded handgun in temporary transit in a locked, TSA approved case. The fun began when I declared it to the ticketing agent, and asked for the appropriate form, per procedure, from her. I’ve done this all across the country, more times than I can count.

    It is an outrage against liberty…and we’ll be fighting it. It’s been one heck of a day, and I appreciate all the outpouring of support. Sitting in there all day today, the idea of liberty deprived becomes much more than a theoretical one. It ups my passion for what we do a thousand times over. It is almost impossible to explain how it felt, on so many levels.

    Here’s the official statement. I’m afraid I can’t say a lot more because it’s a pending legal matter and I have to follow the lawyers instructions. But there was no way I wasn’t going to reach out to you guys personally.

    “Mark Meckler, an attorney and National Coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, who holds a concealed-carry permit from the state of California, today was charged with a firearms violation at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. While in temporary transit through the state of New York in possession of an unloaded, lawful firearm that was locked in a TSA-approved safe, 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 TSA and the airline, yet was arrested by port authority for said possession.”

    Any support you can provide in response to blog items etc., is greatly appreciated. This is a perfect example of our liberties under attack.

    Mark

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