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Tea Party member arrested on gun charge at NY airport

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:09 PM EST, Thu December 15, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Mark Meckler followed the law but was arrested anyway, his attorney says
  • Meckler declared Glock 27 pistol to a Delta ticket agent at LaGuardia, D.A. says in statement
  • It was in a locked gun box in his checked baggage with more than a dozen 9mm cartridges

New York (CNN) -- A leader of a Tea Party group was arrested Thursday at New York's LaGuardia Airport while in possession of a handgun, prosecutors said.

Mark Meckler, a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, was detained Thursday morning during preflight check-in, according to a Queens District attorney statement.

Meckler told a Delta Airlines ticket agent about the Glock 27 pistol, which was in a locked gun box alongside more than a dozen 9mm cartridges, the statement said.

He has been charged with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a felony that carries up to 15 years behind bars.

"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 District Attorney Richard A. Brown. "Otherwise, they may find themselves being arrested and charged with a felony, as is what occurred in this case."

Brian Stapleton, an attorney for Meckler, issued a statement saying his client abided by the law.

"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," Stapleton said in the 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."

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