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Tea Party co-founder arrested on gun charge

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The head of a major Tea Party group was arrested Thursday when he attempted to board a plane at LaGuardia Airport with a gun in his luggage, the Queens district attorney said.

Mark J. Meckler, 49, of California, was arraigned on a criminal possession of a weapon charge for carrying his Glock 27 pistol along with ammunition on a Delta Airlines flight, DA Richard Brown said.

Although Meckler, who is the co-founder of the influential Tea Party Patriots, has a license for the gun in his home state, he had no permits to carry the weapon while he was visiting the city, according to the DA.

“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,” he said in a statement. “Otherwise, they may find themselves being arrested and charged with a felony – as is what occurred in this case.”

Meckler, who was released on his own recognizance after his arraignment, presented a locked gun box to a Delta Airlines ticket agent around 5:20 a.m. during check-in at the airport, Brown said. In addition to the pistol, the box contained 19 9mm cartridges, according to the DA.

Meckler, a lawyer, had been in New York since Sunday and told the police that he carries the gun because he has been getting threats, Brown said.

His next court date is Jan. 12 and he faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on his felony, the DA said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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