Airport AR-15 Display "Entirely Political," Says Peter Steinmetz, Brain Researcher
Peter Steinmetz says he was just trying to make a political point when he brought a fully loaded AR-15 into the airport on July 25, but he won't repeat the act.
Attorney Marc Victor (left) and Peter Steinmetz (right).
Police arrested the Barrow Neurological Institute brain researcher on suspicion of disorderly conduct with a firearm, alleging the muzzle of Steinmetz's rifle was pointed briefly at two women. No word has come from Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery about any criminal charges.
"I wanted to help educate the public and employees at the airport ... by allowing them to observe a peaceful person responsibly carrying an AR-15 while doing things that people normally do there, like waiting and drinking a coffee," Steinmetz said on Monday at his lawyer's office, adding that he was "careful to ensure my firearm was never pointed at anyone."
Reporters and TV cameras packed the small lobby of attorney Marc Victor's southeast Valley office on Monday at 3 p.m. for the highly anticipated comments by Steinmetz, who until then hadn't said why he had a semi-automatic rifle at the airport.
Wearing a blue suit with an American flag pin on the lapel, Steinmetz pulled out a piece of paper and read from a prepared statement.
Calling himself a "peaceful political activist," Steinmetz explained in his statement that his display of the AR-15 at Terminal Four of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was "entirely political in nature."
The demonstration, if that's what it was, follows his previous open-carry display at the airport back in November, in which he and his son were confronted by police as they waited with their rifles for Steinmetz's wife to arrive on a flight. Steinmetz told cops they were showing their weapons as a way to protest the Transportation Security Administration and its "strip-searching" of Americans. It also followed a post on his Google Plus account in which he seems to sympathize with a man who shot and killed a TSA agent at the Los Angeles International Airport on November 1.
Surveillance video still of Steinmetz at Sky Harbor on July 25.
The Barrow institute, saying last week it took the July 25 incident "very seriously," suspended Steinmetz from his job as principal investigator of the institute's "Neuroengineering/Human Neurophysiology Laboratory," also called the Brain Modeling Laboratory, a title he's held since 2008.
Steinmetz's entire statement follows: