Debate Magazine

UPDATE: My Results So Far in Contacting the Queens County DA Re: Mark Meckler

Posted on the 21 December 2011 by Mikeb302000
After being put on hold repeatedly, and hung up on once - very different from my communication with the Brooklyn DA, and finally speaking with someone who only identified themselves as 'Helen' - here is what I have found so far.
Meckler was acting illegally for having his firearm in New York for four days, because his California permit was not valid, AND because New York was his destination, he was not 'passing through' the state to a state where his permit was recognized.  That is not what is covered by being in transit where you are BRIEFLY passing through a state, and where the firearm and the ammo are NOT accessible during that time.  Democommie was correct; Fat White Man was correct in some respects, but not in others as to why Meckler was illegal in transporting his weapon.
My thanks for Laci in looking up this data which pertains to transporting a firearm through other jurisdictions:
18 USC § 926A
TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 44 > § 926A

§ 926A. Interstate transportation of firearms

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.
So, what this means in more simple language is that by staying for four days in New York - information that Meckler volunteered - he was not in the process of transporting the firearm consistent with the above law, which applies to people in transit, not those who stop and stay for four days, as tourists.  That is not 'passing through', however it WOULD apply to someone who was, for example, on a flight to somewhere else that was diverted from their ticketed destination, or similarly in transit through the state.  From wikipedia:
"One of the law's provisions was that persons traveling from one place to another cannot be incarcerated for a firearms offense in a state that has strict gun control laws if the Traveler is just passing through (short stops for food and gas) and the firearms and ammunition are not immediately accessible, unloaded and, in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment, in a locked container.
An example of this would be that someone driving from Virginia to a competition in Vermont with a locked hard case containing an unloaded handgun and a box of ammunition in the trunk could not be prosecuted in New Jersey or New York City for illegal possession of a handgun provided that they did not stop in New Jersey or New York for an extended period of time."
Meckler was not passing through, and his weapon and ammo were not in a separate compartment at the time he was arrested - a separate compartment being, for example, the trunk of a vehicle.
What was not clear from my conversation with 'Helen' from the DA's office is if Meckler may have been trying to take his weapon and ammo in his carry on luggage into the cabin of the plane as opposed to cargo, which IS against laws and TSA policies.  When I repeatedly emphasized which it was in my question, "Helen' said she thought it was the cabin but that 'it didn't matter anyway', because Meckler had broken New York law, and then discontinued the conversation somewhat abruptly - she hung up on me, despite my being polite and courteous.
So, in summation - it is legal to be in transit, but not to stop as a tourist for days at a time, with a firearm, even if your permit is not legal for a particular state so long as you are passing through, and your firearm and ammo are not readily accessible to you.  Meckler may very well have been conforming to TSA rules and regs as he was boarding, but he had not been conforming to either the Firearm Owners Protection Act OR the laws of the state of New York at the time of his arrest.  He does NOT appear to have been acting lawfully.
Everything I've read so far suggests he is looking at a fine rather than jail time.  Meckler is an attorney, and a concealed carry permit holder; I believe it is perfectly FAIR to expect Mr. Meckler to be conversant with the FOPA of 1968 and with the laws of the state where he will be for an extended period of time as a traveler.
However, the somewhat hysterical fears of persecution of those carrying guns does NOT appear to be justified.  This was not an unreasonable arrest, nor does it appear to be any form of anti-gun persecution by the Queens County DA.
I hope our MikeB readers will once more appreciate that we make efforts to be fact-based in what we post here, and that we go the extra distance to fact check what we see in the media.  Thank you again, Laci, for your excellent assistance in doing precisely that.

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