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A Responsible Gun Owner? Phoenix Man Says Pointing a Gun at People at Airport was Just a Political Statement

On July 25, Peter Nathan Steinmetz, 54, freaked out passengers and security alike when he wandered around the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport terminal with an AR-15 rifle.

Stopping to by a cup of coffee and stopping in front of passenger gates, Steinmetz at one point removed his gun from his shoulder and pointed the muzzle at a teenager and her mother at the airport. The duo said that Steinmatz’s actions made them fear for their lives.

Astonishingly after his arrest, Steinmetz – who is a medical researcher by trade – claimed that he was really just a a peaceful gun lover who did not intend on hurting anyone but just wanted to make a political point.

“I am a peaceful political activist and my purpose in walking around the airport with my AR-15 rifle was entirely political in nature,” Steinmetz said at a press conference flanked by his attorney. “I am also an educated and responsible gun owner. … As I was making this political statement, I was careful not to disturb or endanger anyone.”

He also denied the gun was ever pointed at anyone.

“At all times, I was extremely careful to ensure my firearm was never pointed at anyone. … The safety was engaged at all times,” Steinmetz stressed.

The police called his actions disturbing but pointed out that their was actually no law prohibiting Steinmetz from walking around that part of the Arizona airport with a gun.

While conceding it was legal though, the police spokesman said it was still troubling.

“It certainly was concerning to other passengers at the airport, not knowing why this individual was walking around with an assault rifle slung over his arm,” Sgt. Steve Martos said in response to Steinmetz’s actions.

Since the open carry activist technically did not break the law, it is unclear what, if any, charges he will ultimately face, although the was arrested at the scene for disorderly conduct with a weapon, charges the district attorney has kicked back to the police for further investigation.

Whether he faces criminal charges are not, though, Steinmetz did get himself into a tough spot with his stunt.

His employers made it clear that they did not appreciate their employee’s actions or his notorious act and since his arrest, has been placed on administrative leave with Barrow Neurological Institute.

The open carry activist also said since his point was already made, he does not plan on bringing his gun to the airport again.

“I believe I have now made the important point that peaceful and responsible people can safely be trusted to handle firearms — even AR-15s, even at the airport,” Steinmetz said. “There is never anything to fear from peaceful, responsible gun owners.”

Photo Credit: Tempe PD

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.