About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday — the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.
Gun-rights advocates say they’re exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protest, while those who argue for more gun control say it could be a disaster waiting to happen.
Phoenix police said the gun-toters at Monday’s event, including the man carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, didn’t need permits. No crimes were committed, and no one was arrested.
Militia groups with gripes against the government are regrouping across the country and could grow rapidly, according to an organization that tracks such trends.The stress of a poor economy and a liberal administration led by a black president are among the causes for the recent rise, the report from the Southern Poverty Law Center says. Conspiracy theories about a secret Mexican plan to reclaim the Southwest are also growing amid the public debate about illegal immigration.
Bart McEntire, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told SPLC researchers that this is the most growth he’s seen in more than a decade.
“All it’s lacking is a spark,” McEntire said in the report.
The Associated Press article sites this video as evidence of widespread militia growth.