City Council Member Inna Vernikov was arrested on Friday morning in Brooklyn, New York, on charges of criminal possession of a firearm. Vernikov was photographed at a rally with a visible gun on her waist, leading to her arrest. She turned herself in to the NYPD’s 70th Precinct and surrendered her gun license.
Photos posted on social media showed Vernikov with a black Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun while counterprotesting a pro-Palestinian rally outside Brooklyn College. Despite having a concealed carry license, attorney Ali Najmi stated that Vernikov appeared to be in violation of state law by possessing a gun at a protest.
Vernikov, a Republican council member, has been vocal in her support of Israel and expressed concerns about the safety of CUNY campuses due to the rally. However, an NYPD spokesperson confirmed that no arrests or incidents were reported related to the protest.
Criminal possession of a firearm is a class E felony, but it is unlikely that Vernikov will face jail time as it is a low-level, non-violent offense. She received a desk appearance ticket and will be due in court for arraignment, typically within three weeks.
The incident has drawn criticism from State Senator Julia Salazar, who stated that there is no excuse for an elected official to bring a firearm to a college campus in New York. Democratic City Councilmember Tiffany Cabán expressed surprise at the issuance of a desk appearance ticket for a gun possession case, as it is uncommon.
Republican City Councilmember Joe Borelli expressed confidence that Vernikov would address the charges and fight them in court, emphasizing the responsibility of gun owners. Vernikov had previously supported Republican Lee Zeldin in the race for governor.
Following Vernikov’s arrest, Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul shared a link to the news story, highlighting that New York’s gun safety laws apply to everyone.