“Meckler pleads guilty, gets fined $250 in gun-on-airplane case”

Credit: NY Daily News
Editor’s note: Our local newspaper The Union and the New York Daily News seem to have a vastly different perspectives on how to report the latest news about Mark Meckler’s gun-on-airplane incident. The Union chose to turn to Meckler himself as a “correspondent,” running an article titled “Meckler Gun Charges Dropped, by Mark Meckler, submitted to The Union” as “BREAKING NEWS.” It is here. Here’s the NY Daily News version:

“A Tea Party hotshot pleaded guilty Thursday to trying to carry a pistol and ammunition aboard a flight out of LaGuardia Airport last month,” the New York Daily News is reporting.

“Mark Meckler, 49, was fined $250 after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct. His Glock 27 handgun will be destroyed.

“Meckler, the high-profile founder of the Tea Party Patriots, declined to comment after a brief appearance in Queens Supreme Court. He smiled before he and his lawyer jumped into a waiting car.

“Queens prosecutors say Meckler had a California permit for the semi-automatic handgun but didn’t have permission to tote the weapon around New York. He told cops he needed the gun to protect himself against threats.

“Meckler, whose website bio boasts his “patriotic foundations and cowboy ethics,” sported a pair of cowboy boots.

The article is here.

The New York Post version is here.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

44 thoughts on ““Meckler pleads guilty, gets fined $250 in gun-on-airplane case””

  1. That’s what happens when you let the guy who broke the law tell you “what actually” happened…. It’s too bad it doesn’t appear to be so!

  2. A convicted gun criminal is the Tea Party front personality, it is kind of fitting. The Jon Stewart piece still rings in my head though.

    Mark starts getting coverage at minute 5:00. “They are not law abiding citizens”

      1. Dang, I’d have preferred to have it sold it on Ebay, and then the money is given to HH where it would do some real good!

      2. They are missing a bet here. Expose it momentarily to a very high temp heat source, to get it to melt, and chrome it and save it as a sculpture, which can be then sold on eBay. Two Birdies with one stone.

  3. Let’s see now: if the NY authorities had given Meckler back his gun, when he stepped outside they would have had to arrest him again for carrying an unlicensed weapon, that is, unlicensed in NY. So they did him a favor. He can buy another Glock to fend off all his gun-toting enemies, real and imagined.

  4. http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/01/daniel-zimmerman/new-york-makes-meckler-gun-case-go-away/

    “In a resolution that should make the rest of the ever-growing crowd of New York City gun law violators breathe easier, Mark Meckler has settled the charges against him. As nypost.com reports, he’s plead guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct and will pay a $250 fine. Which is fine. He lost his Glock, but that beats the hell out of a possible 15 years – and a six figure legal bill – if the D.A. had decided to give him the full court Plaxico prosecution treatment. The city clearly wants these embarrassing and highly inconvenient cases to go away with a minimum of fuss and publicity. Look for the Vankirk, Graves and Jerome cases to meet a similar, quiet end.

  5. After reading all accounts, what’s amazing is that after Meckler did everything he was expected to do legally, he was thrown into jail and charged with a felony. Then he had to hire a lawyer to defend himself. The charge was dropped and he was charged with another lie “disorderly conduct” and his gun stolen by New York. Ask yourself who the real lawbreakers are. Evidently no one has challenged New York doing this to so many people and getting away with it. If no one challenges them they’ll get worse and worse. Reminds me of an old fashioned western starring John Wayne versus the claim jumpers.

    1. Bonnie, no one is claiming that Mr. Meckler didn’t try to do the right thing, but being a lawyer as well as being a concealed permit holder, as well as understanding the regulations that come along with that permit you would have figured that he was “smart enuf” to know the problems with this whole scheme of actions.

      The New York laws have been in place for 4+ decades and has gone through at least 200 challanges and it has stood it’s ground (from a legal standpoint).

      Mr. Meckler did not have the legal right to bring the weapon into New York, so it was confiscated and distroyed.

      This to me reminds me of the western (Blazing Saddles) staring Slim Pickens verse the guys eating beans around the campfire, becuase the whole incident stinks to high heaven of stupidity!

    2. Bonnie, If Meckler pleaded guilty to breaking the law that would make him a lawbreaker. Are you saying he pleaded guilty to a lie? He was given a major break and his gun was confiscated, not stolen. The New York news source was spot on.

    3. Bonnie your defense of Meckler is as shallow as his arguments concerning how the Tea Party are “law abiding” citizens. Yes I believe most members of the Tea Party are law abiding citizens. But what does it say when some of the more vocal members/leaders are arrested for breaking the law? Meckler pleaded guilty. California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly was detained after a Colt .45 with four rounds was discovered inside his carry-on bag. Donnelly does not have a permit from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department to carry a concealed weapon, department spokeswoman Jodi Miller said. Both Meckler and Donnelly were irresponsible in their actions.

  6. Bonnie,
    I don’t disagree with you on Mark followed all the laws except one.

    “Queens prosecutors say Meckler had a California permit for the semi-automatic handgun but didn’t have permission to tote the weapon around New York. He told cops he needed the gun to protect himself against threats.”

    He brought an unauthorized gun into New York, which is against the law. Mr Meckler admitted to breaking this law. I think the whole thing is kind of stupid and it has political stunt written all over it.

    1. Ben,
      I think that what Meckler did has mostly “careless” or maybe “stupid” written all over it. If he wanted to make a test case of the 2nd Amendment, he could have. He didn’t, thus my conclusion that it is just a mistake.

      Likewise, if he would reflect a bit and recognize how he was treated for a minor offense is how many others in the US are treated for minor offenses, he would impress me more. I think the arrest was unfair–but then so are the arrests for small things that occur in the poorer areas of town everyday. I would have liked to seen some empathy for all the other people who are handcuffed and hauled down to the police station for minor drug use, zoning violations, immigration issues, minor personal conflict, OWS protests, drunkenness, minor theft and many other things. If he would use his arrest to orient TPP toward such police abuses, I would be much more impressed, than his narrow statement about presumed “second amendment rights.”


  7. Tony,
    In the last few months there has been a number of Tea Party members breaking gun laws, which gives me reason to believe these are planned much like Rosa Parks sitting in the front of the bus. To try and activate an otherwise disillusioned base and to challenge gun laws at the same time.

  8. Quote above: Meckler..was mostly “careless” and “stupid”…just a mistake. I don’t think we want careless, stupid, and mistake prone people toting serious weapons where they are not allowed. Careless and stupid is a formula for some one getting shot.

    1. Peter,
      Carelessness and stupidity are indeed a recipe for accidents whether with respects to guns, cars, or anything else. That’s why we have manslaughter laws. But Meckler was not being venal, nor did he have intent to harm anyone–indeed he even voluntarily showed the gun to the check-in agent.

      You might be right.

      I still would like to see Meckler stand up for the poor and others who are mistreated by police, like I believe he was. But he won’t.
      In my view, all such a mistake required was forfeiture of the gun, and issuance of a ticket of some type. Such a policy sets an example for other travellers to leave their guns at home. The rest was over-reaction in my view at least. I don’t see how handcuffing him, and taking him down to the police station served any public safety interest.


      1. Tony,
        I would love to see Meckler take a stand for excessive police force and intimidation but the underlying them to that is being a victim. One thing white middle class males in the tea party cannot publicly acknowledge is being a victim in a system that is unjust. It is about personal responsibility and working within the status quo. They are not partisan but 100% elected TP are republican. Without the (R) they are nothing more than another activist group.

        So the question becomes were the TP smart in being an arm of the established republican party or will they be swallowed up by the corrupt system like everyone else? Wait and see. The one thing in their favor is huge money at the top of this entity called the Tea Party. The difference between the agenda of the top and those in the streets will become evident at some point and the support in the streets will vanish. Has it already happened? I think to some extent it already has and what will remain will be John Dean’s 20% authoritarian following base.

  9. I just find it amazing that carrying a gun will make one feel safer from “threats.” If someone has it in for you in particular, they are going to stalk you very carefully, and shoot you from behind, or with a magnetic land mine attached to the door of your vehicle, etc.

    Even with the common stranger mugger attack, you being armed is unlikely to prevent them from getting the drop on you. The best protection is to travel with lots of people around you, or at least one trained body guard, and possibly a good dog or two.

  10. Doug,
    Carrying is often not about reason, but emotion. People do indeed *feel* safer when they pack. But, there is no reputable study showing that a average Joe, even the celebrity type like Meckler, are safer because they pack, only a lot of anecdotal evidence and wishful thinking that you can out-draw the bad guy. Jeff posted a Johnny Cash song about this type of wishful thinking last week, I think.

    In a common stranger mugger attack, as any police officer will tell you it is better to submit than struggle. The struggle, no matter how just it may be, is what leads to an escalation and especially when a gun is involved, serious injury or death of you or the mugger.

    This still does not belie the fact that packing does make some people *feel* safer, and that in an awkward way some type of right to bear arms is found in the second amendment. Perhaps John Stoos has a comment–I know that he has strong feelings on this matter.


  11. Ken writes…”California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly was detained after a Colt .45 with four rounds was discovered inside his carry-on bag.” Pay attention to the details. Meckler thought he was doing everything according to law. His gun was unloaded, locked up in an approved box and in his baggage according to most state laws, whereas Donnelly’s was not. (Please read the details). Meckler read the airport sign and complied. Even though he’d done everything legal he according to most states, he found himself jailed on a felony. He’s a lawyer, but paid a lawyer to defend him on a lesser plea of Disorderly Conduct. Disorderly conduct is typically classified as a violation or misdemeanor, like spitting on the sidewalk in some cities. Donate $250 and your California legal gun on the way out. All those in our Judicial system swear an oath to uphold the laws of our Constitution and Bill of Rights that protects us from each other and a police state. However, there are those who think they’re above the law. Don’t take their position for granted. We were in the trucking business for many years. Along comes a Judge who considered himself above the law. He put excessive bail on a minimum overload. When I asked a Calif Legislative attorney about it, he said it was okay as long as the actual fine was according to the law. It bothered me, so I looked it up in the Constitution and called him back that excessive bail was illegal. He then agreed with me and promised to keep an eye on the Judge. Another trucker said the Judge had gone back and re-charged him with things he’d paid for in the past. You can read some more of our experiences here. http://www.mcguiresplace.net/The%20Laws By the way when it comes to illegal guns…Isn’t it wonderful that the Mexican Cartels got a gift of 2,000 guns (paid for by taxpayers?) because of our Attorney General and ATF’s Fast and Furious plan that went astray? No wonder our Ambassador to Mexico seems a little depressed lately.

    1. Meckler thought? He travels often to other states and yet, didn’t know that several states don’t honor California’s concealed weapons permits? I’m extremely skeptical. He got what he deserved. One would think that someone as smart as Meckler would have got the message loud and clear, “Mess with New York City and we’ll mess with you”! Sheriff Royal should revoke his permit on the grounds of using it for a purpose that it was not meant for.

    2. Bonnie I do believe that Mark was following what he thought was the law. The issue that I have is that Mark is an attorney and he has an obligation to know the law when he travels with his weapon. Blaming NYC or anyone else for his mistake is irresponsible and immature. I don’t feel like Mark was trying to hide anything since he did declare his weapon, but he should have known the law. He did pled guilty. You can try and equate his crime to “spitting on a sidewalk” Bonnie. Most rational people see the difference. And as long as Mark is on National TV demeaning the OWS people as lawbreakers you know we are going to comment when Meckler broke the law, which he did. Excuses are like ………………………..

    3. Bonnie, maybe these guys have something that is contagious and causes stupidity as it’s seeming to be rampant with these guys. Remember to use hand sanitizer whenever you’re around these guys as we wouldn’t want your IQ to drop to 55 over-nite!

  12. If I was a New York resident I’d be plenty pissed at wannabe John Wayne bringing his sensibilities east.

    New York Handgun Murders 2010 – 2.64 (per 100k pop.)
    Cali – 3.37 (per 100k pop.)

    New York Firearm Crimes 2010
    Robberies – 12.97 (per 100k pop.)
    Cali – Robberies – 48.44 (per 100k pop.)
    Agg Assaults – 11.8 (per 100k pop.)
    Cali – Agg Assaults – 45.45 (per 100k pop.)

    seems maybe their stricter gun laws have an effect.


  13. I always like to go to the source for my information, so here’s Mark Meckler’s account: “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 publicly speak 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.” This is apparently 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 possibly 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 People, must stand and fight for our inalienable rights.

    I’m not alone in this fight. There are so many laws, that no one can possibly 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 the 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.

    Mark Meckler

    1. I bet Bernie Madoff has a very nice story too!

      Mr. Meckler must have been a “A” student in that college creative writing class!

      The only thing that’s missing is the “reality” of the situation, which many millions of people in New York have managed to understand quite nicely, but I guess when you send someone with a “creative” streak, who runs off across the street jumping a fence while trying not to answer reporters questions when he needs to be responsible for the problems of his own makings’.

  14. Mark protests too much. He brought a concealed weapon into NYC and broke the law. He got busted and was lucky to be plea bargained down. To say, “There are so many laws, that no one can possibly know or understand them” is not taking responsibility for his actions.

  15. If he brought the gun for the reasons stated then there are couple of questions and catch 22’s.

    1) Did Mark M. bring his gun keeping it locked up with him at all times in NY or was he carrying a loaded weapon without a permit, which is against the law?

    2) Are Tea Party members for the rule of law or are laws only to be followed when we agree with them?

    1. Ben, I think we should just follow the one’s we believe in, now officer I want to talk with you about the 177mph ticket I got while going to Los Angeles!

      I was in the fast lane and using my turn signals, so I “don’t got to show you no stinking license.”


  16. Mark “Don Quixote” Meckler delivers to his partisans an overwrought tale of woe and misfortune, but unfortunately the windmills still stand.

  17. Someone call the Whaaaammbulance!

    “No one should ever have to go through what my family has been through, simply for exercising a fundamental right…”

    Do these whining wingers not understand how ironic their protests are? Everything they do and stand for supports a system that unfairly jails those who were simply exercising their right to protest, or be of non-white skin in America etc, etc. Once they get a taste of the authoritarian glove, they whine like they have been through hell. Just desserts I say.

    BTW, what well-regulated militia is feckless Meckler a member of anyway? Can I see the charter and the regulations? It’s in the Constitution if there are any questions.

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