Peter Steinmetz, a medical researcher, was arrested on July 25 after carrying an assault rifle into the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
While carrying his AR-15 rifle, Steinmetz reportedly bought a cup of coffee and stopped in front of some passenger gates. That's where a woman and her teen daughter accused Steinmetz of pointing the weapon at them, which Steinmetz denied.
According to AZCentral.com, Steinmetz was arrested on suspicion of two counts of disorderly conduct, but no formal charges have been filed against him yet.
Steinmetz stated during a news conference on Monday that he was just trying to make a political statement (video below).
"I am a peaceful political activist and my purpose in walking around the airport with my AR-15 rifle was entirely political in nature," said Steinmetz. "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," added Steinmetz. "At all times, I was extremely careful to ensure my firearm was never pointed at anyone. The safety was engaged at all times."
Guns are not restricted in the part of the airport that Steinmetz was in, but Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos told the Associated Press, "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."
Dignity Health's St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, where Steinmetz works, said last week that he had been placed on administrative leave "following his arrest at Sky Harbor Airport and after careful analysis and review."
Steinmetz stated during his news conference that he had accomplished his mission.
"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," claimed Steinmetz. "There is never anything to fear from peaceful, responsible gun owners."
However, several airline passengers told AZCentral.com that they would fear a man like Steinmetz carrying a gun in an airport.