Valley MD: Carrying AR-15 rifle at Sky Harbor was about 'liberty'

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Dr. Peter Steinmetz said he was openly carrying his rifle at the airport to make a point about liberty. In doing so, he said he put his constitutional civil liberties on display for everyone. (Source: CBS 5 News) Dr. Peter Steinmetz said he was openly carrying his rifle at the airport to make a point about liberty. In doing so, he said he put his constitutional civil liberties on display for everyone. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Dr. Peter Steinmetz is arrested at Sky Harbor Airport for carrying an AR-15 rifle. (Source: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport) Dr. Peter Steinmetz is arrested at Sky Harbor Airport for carrying an AR-15 rifle. (Source: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Before going to the airport one day in July with an AR-15 rifle slung over his shoulder, Dr. Peter Steinmetz actually asked his family if they thought it was a good idea.

"'I'm thinking of doing this. What do you think?'" the Valley man asked. "And they were like, 'Do you think you'll be arrested?' And we said, 'No, I don't think that's very probable.'"

Steinmetz said he was at the airport openly carrying his rifle to make a point about liberty. In doing so, he said he put his constitutional civil liberties on display for everyone.

"I don't think the irrational fears of others have some sort of precedence over what we're allowed to do," Steinmetz said. 

It did on that day, though. Steinmetz said he walked around the terminal for 10 to 15 minutes before being noticed by police.

"I actually never pointed that gun at anyone. I was very conscientious in my handling of the weapon to make sure it was never pointed in anyone's direction," Steinmetz said.

Police officials said otherwise. They accused Steinmetz of pointing his weapon at a mother and her teenage daughter. He was arrested and booked into the Maricopa County Jail.

"This case was more about activism and politics than it ever was about a criminal case. I never felt there was a criminal offense here," said Marc Victor, Steinmetz's attorney.

"I don't think there's any rational reason for a fear there. I think we've been conditioned by media to think there's reason for a fear," Steinmetz said.

He is talking about a fear about loaded weapons being carried openly in public places. CBS 5 News asked if he would walk the streets of Newtown, CT,  with an AR-15 slung over his shoulder.

"I think if it was legal," Steinmetz said. "I'd have to think about that one a bit more."

Charges against Steinmetz were ultimately dropped by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

He agreed to not openly carry a weapon in a Maricopa County Airport for the next two years.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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