A Republican member of the New York City Council could face felony charges for illegally carrying her lawfully-owned pistol in one of the city’s many “gun-free zones” after she was arrested while counter-demonstrating at a pro-Palestinian protest on the campus of Brooklyn College on Thursday.
Inna Vernikov, whose photo was splashed across the New York Post just a few weeks ago in a profile of some of the Big Apple’s newest gun owners, turned herself into police on Thursday evening after social media posts began circulating showing her with a pistol tucked into her trousers.
The councilwoman, who is Jewish and has spoken out against pro-Palestine supporters, was in attendance as protesters convened on the campus of CUNY’s Brooklyn College Thursday.
“[Vernikov] was observed with the but-end of a firearm (handgun) protruding from the front portion of her pants” while observing the protest between noon and 2:45 p.m. Thursday, police sources told The Post.
“The Councilwoman eventually left the location and upon notification to police, the Councilwoman was contacted and she turned herself in to the 70 Precinct, in the company of her attorney [around 2:50 a.m. Friday],” the sources continued.
The 39-year-old was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm because she was on school grounds, the sources said.
Under New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act (which made the state’s concealed carry laws a helluva lot worse, not better), Vernikov could now face up to four years in state prison for carrying in a “sensitive place”; in this case both the college campus and a protest, though a police source told the Post that “at no point in time was anyone menaced or injured as a result of her possessing the firearm”.
That doesn’t matter to the anti-gun politicians who enshrined the CCIA into law. No violence needs to be committed or even implied in order to face felony charges. Simply possessing a gun where the state says it’s not allowed is reason enough to go to prison, according to gun control fans like Gov. Kathy Hochul and the vast majority of Democrats in the state legislature.
In her comments to the Post in their piece about new gun owners, Vernikov said that she decided to start exercising her Second Amendment rights because of her growing concern about crime and anti-semitism in the city she calls home. Now the knives are coming out for the politician, with Democrats and pro-Palestinian protesters demanding her removal from office in addition to being put in prison.
“At today’s rally on Brooklyn College campus led by the students in their SJP chapter, Inna Vernikov showed up showcasing a gun to Palestinian students and their allies,” CUNY4Palestine tweeted alongside one such image.
“These are the tactics of force and intimidation used by zionist groups to silence any support for Palestine.”
“She should lose her job and the gun license taken away from her,” on attendee commented.
There is no excuse, none whatsoever, for an elected official to bring a firearm to a college campus in New York. To go even further by allegedly brandishing the gun to intimidate Palestinian students is beyond anything I've seen before. And I've seen some shit. https://t.co/aVsj3k1PSq
— Julia Salazar (@JuliaCarmel__) October 13, 2023
Despite New York State Senator Julia Salazar’s allegation that Vernikov “brandished” her pistol at some point on Thursday, there’s no evidence that the city council member ever drew her pistol, and it doesn’t sound like she’s been charged with brandishing her gun either. As for Salazar’s claim that there’s no excuse to bring a gun onto a college campus, I imagine Vernikov’s defense is going to be first that she had a Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms as well as feeling unsafe being disarmed while exercising her First Amendment right to protest a group that would like to see Israel wiped off the map, especially when Hamas has called for a “day of rage” directed at both Israelis and Jews across the globe.
If Vernikov was trying to make a political statement, she’s succeeded. Now we’ll see what Brooklyn D.A. Eric Gonzalez will do. I expect that formal charges will be filed, but I have no idea if Vernikov would be willing to take a plea deal or if she wants to have her day in court in front of a jury of her peers. I personally think it’s an outrageous violation of the Second Amendment to ban lawful concealed carry in supposedly “sensitive places” like a protest or a college campus, but whether the average Brooklynite would agree is another issue entirely.