Isn't this special? Even Ed Henry was flustered by these people openly carrying assault rifles and other guns outside of an Obama rally in Phoenix, AZ
August 18, 2009

Isn't this special? Even Ed Henry was flustered by these people openly carrying assault rifles and other guns outside of an Obama rally in Phoenix, AZ. As Henry stated, this is legal, but at what point does the Secret Service get involved and say, you know what if you've got a weapon out in the open with these crowds, it's time for you to go?

These are not concealed weapons. They are being carried out in the open where maybe someone who doesn't have a permit or own the gun could take the gun away from the person carrying it and shoot people in the crowd. I would love for someone who knows something about what the conceal and carry laws are in Arizona to explain to me why this is legal? It just looks down right irresponsible to me to be carrying an unconcealed, loaded weapon in a crowd even if you do have a right to carry it.

And for the record, I'm not some anti-gun zealot. I have no problem with those that own and handle guns responsibly. My husband hunts and we've got a safe full of guns at our home. That said, if he brought one of them loaded into a crowd like these people did and had it right out in the open where anyone might take it away from him, I don't think we'd be married any more. I think it is completely irresponsible and if the gun laws in Arizona allow this, there's something wrong with their laws.

Transcript below the fold.

SANCHEZ: Hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez. As we always tell you, it is not a speech, it is a conversation, and we want you to get involved. Here's something that's gotten our attention. I want to see if it gets as much of your attention.

Let's start with that picture. Remember when President Obama had a town hall meeting, and somebody showed up with a gun in a holster that he was later interviewed and actually said that the gun was loaded? Told that to an interviewer.

All right. Moments ago, we got this picture in. Let's flip the shot. This was just about an hour ago. That picture's coming in right now from Phoenix, Arizona. He's actually carrying an assault rifle. He's at an Obama event. That's an AR-15 on his back.

And we're being told from our crews there on the ground that he may not have been the only person in the crowd today that was carrying a loaded weapon.

We should let you know, by the way -- it's important -- that this is perfectly legal in the state of Arizona, because they have an open carry law.

Our White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is in Phoenix. He's been at these rallies. He's been following this one for us today, and he is joining us now to bring us up to date on what's going on.

Ed, you know, I'm curious, as I look at this story, as to whether you saw other people in the audience that may have also been carrying guns the way this fellow was.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I did. I saw at least a couple weapons, including an AR-15, and it happened just across the street from where I am.

There was a large group of Obama supporters. They were supporting the president on health care. And it was peaceful, and, you know, there were some protesters across the street shouting things like socialism, et cetera, kind of typical stuff you see outside of some of these events these days.

And I happened to wade into the pro-Obama side to take some pictures, still photos, and try to interview some people. And all of a sudden, I saw this gentleman who was anti-Obama. He was shouting something about socialism with an AR-15 on his back.

And it sort of startled me because at first I thought maybe it was some sort of law enforcement officer, and I had forgotten about the open-carry law in Arizona just off the top of my head because it's kind of jarring at first to see an assault weapon in the middle of the street...


SANCHEZ: But just to be clear -- I'm going to interrupt for just a moment -- the person you saw that was carrying a weapon, was it the fellow that we're looking at on videotape now, this African-American gentleman with the glasses?

HENRY: It was not. It was another person. It was not an African-American gentleman. It was another gentleman. And so there was at least two of these weapons here in the crowd.

I want to stress that none of these weapons went off. There was never any sort of confrontation.


SANCHEZ: Yes, but Secret Service has got to -- I'm just thinking Secret Service has got to be looking at this and wondering if this is going to become a trend and whether they're going to have to be prepared for something developing in the future.


SANCHEZ: Have you had a chance to talk to them?

HENRY: Yes. Well, let me tell you exactly what happened, which is that when I noticed this one person who is different from that photo with an AR-15, I also then noticed several police officers and some Secret Service officials moving closer to this person, not doing anything, not, you know, hassling him or anything, but staying very close to him in sort of a semicircle just to make sure that as pro- Obama and anti-Obama people on health care were shouting at each other, again, peacefully, that nothing went out of control.

And, so, yes, the Secret Service, local law enforcement here on the ground in Phoenix were very much aware of this situation and are very much monitoring this to make sure it doesn't go out of control.

SANCHEZ: Well, the obvious question here that you and I would have or anybody at home watching is, well, what's this guy's motivation? Why would he show up to an event with what may be a loaded assault rifle?

I understand he did an interview a little while ago. We listened to this and I really couldn't make out what he said, but for the sake of transparency, let's all listen to it together now. Go ahead, Claude. Play this, if you could.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you here -- are an AR-15? Why are you here with an AR-15?


SANCHEZ: Why are you carrying an AR-15?

I can't tell exactly what he said. So, we don't know at this point if that guy was protesting against the president or for the president, or maybe trying to make a point because he saw guys on the other side that were carrying weapons. I can't imagine -- you don't know the answer to that question either, Ed, at this point, do you?

HENRY: Well, I know that the person that I saw with an AR-15 different from that person was definitely against the president's policies. He was shouting things that suggested he certainly did not support the health reform effort or very many other policies of this president.

Now, someone affiliated with the Democratic National Committee who's here said that they heard one of these gentlemen say that he was carrying a weapon because he could, that, essentially, he has a Second Amendment right to do it. There is an open carry law that makes this perfectly legal in the state of Arizona, as you noted at the top.

Again, I did not hear that myself. But I wanted to tell you that that was someone affiliated with the DNC. That's what she overheard.

(CROSSTALK) SANCHEZ: But here's the point on that. And I'm just having a conversation with you, one that I think is logical that anybody else watching this would have.

Just because you can do something, does that mean that you should? And given the fact that it's President Obama that we're talking about right now and not President Bush or President Clinton or another president in the past -- let me ask you this. You have been doing this job for a long time. You have been to a lot of these -- do you remember people showing up at President Bush's rallies with open guns like that, carrying weapons?

HENRY: They may have, but I have to be honest that I never saw one. And that was what was jarring to me at this event today was actually seeing an AR-15, which I had never seen myself up close, within a couple of feet.


HENRY: And, so, now, people may have had weapons, concealed or, you know, outside of events, I want to stress, outside Bush events, but I never saw one out in the open, I have to be honest with you. Never saw that. And that was what was just pretty startling to see.

SANCHEZ: Yes. So, that's what leads me to ask, then, is this an open display or gesture that is trying to send a signal to Barack Obama about gun rights or about health care or about anything? And I'm asking that question rhetorically. I know you don't have an answer to it, but it's something that we obviously will continue to follow as we see this situation.

HENRY: Absolutely. At future events, as we -- you know, this just happened in the middle of this health care rally.


HENRY: We were not expecting it to happen. In the days ahead, it's something we're going to be watching very closely, obviously, and asking even more questions than we did today, because you're right. It's a hard question to answer, but it's one that deserves an answer certainly.

SANCHEZ: You're doing a great job as usual. Ed Henry, thanks so much for getting up to us on that.

We just saw this video just a little while ago and turned this whole thing around and asked Ed to join us live. I know you have got to get some work done for "THE SITUATION ROOM," so get to it, man.

Can you help us out?

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