DA says gun charge dropped against NYC lawmaker seen with pistol at protest because gun did not work

NEW YORK (AP) — Charges have been dropped against a New York City lawmaker accused of bringing a gun to a protest because her gun was inoperable, prosecutors said Friday.

City Council member Inna Vernikov, a strongly pro-Israel Republican, was arrested on Oct. 13 for bringing a handgun to a Brooklyn College demonstration supporting Palestinians.

Vernikov was seen in photos and videos with the butt of a pistol jutting out from her waistband while counterprotesting at the pro-Palestinian rally, according to the New York Police Department.

She was arraigned in Brooklyn criminal court this month on a charge of possessing a gun at a sensitive location.

Vernikov had a license to carry a concealed weapon, but under New York law, even licensed gun owners may not bring weapons to certain sensitive locations, including protests and school grounds.

But after Vernikov surrendered her gun, the police examined it and found that it was missing the recoil spring assembly, rendering it inoperable, Brooklyn district attorney's office spokesperson Oren Yaniv said.

“In order to sustain this charge, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the weapon in question was capable of firing bullets,” Yaniv said. “Absent such proof, we have no choice but to dismiss these charges.”

Vernikov's attorney, Arthur Aidala, said his client “is pleased to have this all behind her and looks forward to continuing her fight on behalf of all New Yorkers to keep this city the greatest city in the world.”