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Mark Meckler, co-founder and chairman of Tea Party Patriots

Mark Meckler, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, one of the largest and most prominent tea-party groups, was arrested today at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport on a gun charge – despite showing police his pistol permit and explaining that the weapon is registered in California.

“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,” said Brian Stapleton, Meckler’s lawyer, in a statement.

“While in temporary transit through the state of New York in possession of an unloaded, lawful firearm that was locked in a (Transportation Security Administration)-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,” Stapleton said.

According to the Associated Press, Queens prosecutors say 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. Meckler told authorities he carries the gun for protection because he receives threats.

Meckler, 49, declared the weapon and is licensed to carry the gun in his home state of California.

However, the report notes that his California license is not valid in New York, which has strict rules on concealed weapon carry.

Meckler faces up to 15 years in prison on a charge of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, a Class C felony. He was released following arraignment, and his court date was set for Jan. 12.

“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,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, according to the New York Daily News. “Otherwise, they may find themselves being arrested and charged with a felony – as is what occurred in this case.”

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