Brooklyn councilwoman Inna Vernikov has had criminal charges dismissed after it was discovered that the pistol she carried to a pro-Palestinian rally at Brooklyn College was unloaded and inoperable. Vernikov, a conservative Republican, attended the demonstration as a counter-protester to livestream her criticism.
Vernikov’s ardent opposition to what she believed were supporters of Hamas drew attention when images of her carrying a gun surfaced on social media. While she possessed a permit for the Smith & Wesson 9-millimeter pistol she was carrying, openly carrying firearms is prohibited in New York State. Additionally, a law implemented last year forbids carrying weapons in sensitive locations, such as gatherings for protests.
Prosecutors sought to find a balance between respecting First Amendment rights and prioritizing gun control. The Brooklyn district attorney’s spokesman, Oren Yaniv, highlighted that the pistol was unloaded and missing a crucial component, rendering it unusable. He emphasized that charges had to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the weapon was capable of firing bullets, which was not feasible in this case.
Vernikov, who represents neighborhoods in Southern Brooklyn, including Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay, was re-elected to a second term in November despite the recent charges against her. Her lawyer, Arthur L. Aidala, noted that she had an impeccable reputation serving her community and expressed her relief that the charges were dropped.
While various organizations condemned Vernikov’s actions and called for her resignation, including the New York Working Families Party, which denounced “armed intimidation” near educational institutions, Vernikov remains committed to her fight against rising crime, unreasonable mandates, and addressing the migrant crisis. As a Ukrainian-born lawyer, she has also become a vocal advocate against anti-Semitism, shedding light on instances of anti-Semitic assaults on a national and international level.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Was Inna Vernikov charged with a crime?
Yes, Inna Vernikov, a Brooklyn councilwoman, was initially charged with criminal possession of a firearm after attending a pro-Palestinian rally with an unloaded and inoperable gun.
Why were the charges against Vernikov dismissed?
The charges against Vernikov were dismissed because it was proven that the gun she carried was incapable of firing bullets due to it being unloaded and missing a vital component.
What are the regulations regarding openly carrying firearms in New York State?
In New York State, openly carrying a firearm is prohibited. Carrying weapons in sensitive locations, including gatherings for protests, is expressly forbidden by law.
Was Vernikov re-elected after the charges against her?
Yes, Inna Vernikov was re-elected to a second term as councilwoman for Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay in southern Brooklyn, among other neighborhoods, despite the recent charges against her.
What is Vernikov’s stance on important issues?
Vernikov is committed to fighting against rising crime, unreasonable mandates, and addressing the migrant crisis. She is also a leading voice against anti-Semitism, advocating for increased awareness of and action against anti-Semitic assaults.