CNN’s Claim That AR15 Protester Carries Legally Is Demonstrably False.

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This man, who would only give his first name, “Chris,” stood outside an Presidential town hall appearance with (what may have been) a loaded AR15 military assault rifle. The creepiness of this, given the history of political assassinations and right-wing violence, will go without further comment here.

I’d like to discuss the facts.

Consider this article from CNN.

One would assume they had done their research into the claim of legality, and on first glance, everything appears in order. In a previous iteration of the same story they spelled out that in Arizona it is legal to carry a weapon without a permit as long as the weapon is legal itself (not a banned weapon, purchased legally, etc) and legally owned (see below).

Since this man never gave an ID or his full name, CNN’s claim that “it’s legal,” REALLY means it WOULD be if they had properly vetted this man and his weapon. By all indications they did neither.

Looking at the long list of prohibitions in the Arizona open carry law, this man could fall into many of these categories without CNN (or us) having any way of knowing.

Is he under 18? Probably not, but we can’t know without a name or ID check.

Is he an ex-felon, or on parole? There’s no way to know.

Does he have a history of being institutionalized for being a danger to himself or others? We can’t possibly know.

Is he a US citizen? We, guess what, don’t know.

This guy faces tougher scrutiny when he buys a brewski at the local deli. Bad CNN!

More importantly, CNN’s claim that he was carrying the weapon legally is false. They (and we) can’t know that objectively or with any certainty. But wait kids, there’s more…

The weapon itself could be illegal. I am not a gun expert by any means and haven’t found AR15 regulations for AZ … I’ll leave that to the REAL reporters (as if); but if it’s anything like the law in California, this particular weapon has to be configured a certain way and can NOT, legally, have certain features like a pistol grip, telescoping barrel, certain ammo capacity, etc.

Now if I WAS a real reporter I might show these pictures to someone who IS a gun expert and figure it out. But that would take time, and let’s face it, the CURIOSITY to get the friggin’ facts.

We might know one day if this man, who suspiciously withheld his name, was actually protesting legally. I doubt that information will come from people in the media who put sensationalism over research.

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21 responses to “CNN’s Claim That AR15 Protester Carries Legally Is Demonstrably False.

  1. very nice points.

    NEWS BLAST! Fact checking has been found to help strings of words correspond more closely to reality, i.e. be actual reporting, rather than just. . . strings of words

    Somebody, tell CNN!

  2. California regulates “assault weapons” more heavily than any other state. As far as I can tell there is no such regulation in Arizona.

  3. In order for the CNN’s claim to be “demonstrably false” you need evidence. You have none.

    It is not up to you or CNN or any news organization to establish legality. The authorities appeared to be satisfied that no law was broken. If he chooses to give minimal information to interviewers, that is his prerogative. Anyone who was uncomfortable by his actions had the option to move away. By openly carrying the weapon, he made it possible for other to exercise a choice to stay away.

    I don’t like to call myself an expert on firearms because I am always learning something I didn’t already know. However, the limitations that California has chosen to place on its citizens with respect to semi-automatic rifles is absurd. Each of the items used to characterize an EBR (evil black rifle) are in fact and practice safety enhancements. A pistol grip is to a rifle what seat belts are to a car. The telescoping or collapsible stock is equivalent to the seat adjustment. And, a flash suppressor accomplishes the same thing as reducing glare. Lastly, if you break a EBR down into its functional components you would find that at a macro level it operates in much the same way as the majority of pistols.

  4. bullshit
    the police completely knew ahead of time that he was going to show up with that particular gun before hand .
    they knew every thing about chris the day before the obama o’roma happened ..
    so gets your facts straight buddy!

    this artical is nothing but pure speculation .

  5. The weapon itself could be illegal. I am not a gun expert by any means and haven’t found AR15 regulations for AZ … I’ll leave that to the REAL reporters (as if); but if it’s anything like the law in California, this particular weapon has to be configured a certain way and can NOT, legally, have certain features like a pistol grip, telescoping barrel, certain ammo capacity, etc.

    As formerly born in the State of Arizona, and who regularly keeps up with the weapons laws in Arizona (my background is legal research), Arizona does not have California’s Roberti-Roos Assault weapons regulations. You would do well to actually do a little bit of research.

    If you did, you’d know that Arizona clearly has NO law against the carrying of long guns in public. If you also knew the history of Arizona, you’d also know that before concealed carry via license was even legal, you were actually REQUIRED to carry any firearms, whether it be handgun or rifle, openly. It was that way since before Arizona’s statehood until 1994.

    This being said, you should do a little more research. It’s also possible that he may have been able to carry that style of rifle, with some modification, if he was in California, too. Surprised? I’m not.

    Also, what you’re talking about about checking ID’s and checking names, it’s clear you don’t have the slightest idea of what the 4th amendment does, as well as state level versions of the 4th amendment.

    If a person is carrying a firearm in a lawful manner, or actually generally carrying out one’s business even without the firearm, asking for ID outside of a situation involving a drivers license and a traffic is presumptively a violation of the 4th amendment.

    See the following cases:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolender_v._Lawson

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiibel_v._Sixth_Judicial_District_Court_of_Nevada

    Specifically applicable stop and identify law in Arizona:

    13-2412. Refusing to provide truthful name when lawfully detained; classification

    A. It is unlawful for a person, after being advised that the person’s refusal to answer is unlawful, to fail or refuse to state the person’s true full name on request of a peace officer who has lawfully detained the person based on reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime. A person detained under this section shall state the person’s true full name, but shall not be compelled to answer any other inquiry of a peace officer.

    B. A person who violates this section is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.

    The detainment would NOT have been lawful in this circumstance. He committed no crime, he did not unsling it which would have been a criminal offense. If he was detained by the local constabulary, was forced to give over a name, and it turned out he was a prohibited possessor, the courts would have to toss the entire case.

    As stated on a recent 4th amendment case called Florida v. J.L, from Wikipedia:

    The Court further declined to create a standard “firearms exception” to the Terry doctrine, as was recognized in some Federal circuits, stating, among other things, that “Such an exception would enable any person seeking to harass another to set in motion an intrusive, embarrassing police search of the targeted person simply by placing an anonymous call falsely reporting the target’s unlawful carriage of a gun . . .

    Do you really want to go down the path of watering down the 4th amendment further? Bush did plenty of that with his 8 years. The court system will not look too kindly to overarching regulations of guns.

    Speaking myself as a pro-public option person myself, I am now under the opinion that some we need some lawful open carrying by those of us on the pro-public option side. Show that we will not be intimidated, that we will not be slaughtered like sheep that some of the other side think us to be.

  6. What is even worse…is that the WHOLE thing may have been a publicity stunt. Staged, even: http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/08/18/obama.protest.rifle/

    Nobody wants to take guns away in this country, you silly gun nuts. Simmah down now and go back to building your survivalist bunker, k? K.

    And folks wonder why I have chronic insomnia. Ugh.

    It would be fantastic if journalists were um…JOURNALISTS. Great post!

  7. Thanks for the comments. As far as the weapon itself I think I made a pretty clear disclaimer that I didn’t know. As far as my entire article being “speculation” what we see now is details coming forward about this guys ties to militia movements (ala Tim McVeigh), and I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine he COULD have a police record etc.

    My point was a logical one not a legal one. If we are to trust CNNs assertion that this is legal, we should also have a sense that THEY have done research, looked deeper etc.

    The story that this was staged eluded them. Whether asking this man for ID is legal or not (you could make a good case for disturbing the peace or disorderly conduct here), it is NOT possibly for CNN to say with any authority that this is legal.

    Sorry if that is confusing.

  8. I read your piece on the ar-15 carrying protester in AZ…and I think you are a bit off base on the legality of personal carry. You ask all the right questions that pertain to the nature of what is considered legal carry, but you ask them in a way that presumes this man is guilty until proven innocent. We dont tolerate profiling or making people prove innocence in any other case, why should this guy have to prove that he is carrying legally when he is not breaking any laws? Sure the gun could be stolen, he could be an islamic terrorist, and he could be 16 years old, but just because he is carrying a gun doesnt give us the right to make him prove anything. It would be like allowing the police to pull over any brown people that live in border states because they need to prove that they are not illegal immigrants. We dont tolerate that type of an invasion of privacy when it comes to illegal immigrants, and we shouldnt allow it into other areas either.

    I can agree with you about sensationalism though…if this guy wasn’t black he would be all over the news as “the white nazi protester who came to kill the president.” The media loves to gin up a normal story and try to make it a home run, no matter if the facts match up or not.

    If you want so shoot back go ahead and email me. Take care.

  9. Unless the law has been recently changed, it is legal to openly carry firearms here in Washington State. The catch being: except when the act of openly carrying firearms intimidates and/or appears to threaten the well being of others. Consequently, while it is okay to openly carry in rural areas, doing the same in cities can earn you a visit from law enforcement.

    If Arizona has this same stipulation, then packing heat at a public political gathering could certainly be construed as threatening and/or intimidating.

  10. I’m not advocating profiling and this situation is obviously made more complicated by the fact this man is black.

    The man who organized this staged event said to Rick Sanchez of CNN “you guys are too easy”… basically a “we fooled you into believing this was something other than it was.”

    The police and Secret Service may have acted responsibly in terms of the law. My questions merely point out what we clearly cannot know, and CNN cannot claim to know either, I wasn’t advocating anything.

    Considering the high likelyhood that this man COULD be a militia member in an offshoot or permutation of the same groups that were shut down in the 90’s for plotting to blow up Federal buildings, I find it interesting that the media gives it a sympathetic reading.

    I’d go further and suggest that MAYBE, just maybe, the organizers were shrewd in knowing that a black face on this (I’m sure he could have gotten white associates to do the same staged appearance), would allow “Chris” to escape some of the scrutiny (and ironically some of the fear) we would all have had if this guy was a typical right-wing looking dude. So as far as profiling goes, they played US.

    What do you think?

  11. Re Molly’s post: I couldn’t agree more.

    It’s staggering to me that the media focused on the “wow… didja know this is LEGAL” aspect of this instead of the obvious message of intimidation organized by people sympathetic and with a long history with militia groups.

    To suggest that “Chris” is hiding something by (cowardly I’d point out, considering his self-proclaimed right to stay strapped at all times) not giving his name seems like a no-go area, at least with the media. They almost seem to fawn over his nobel refusal to be identified (wow gee he can tell the police and secret service to fuck off TOO… not that they asked, remember this is AZ… the cops prolly thought it was “neat” too).

    The FACT is CNN had no clue in the original story that this was staged or coordinated by a hard-line militia guy. An interview with the radio host (which they did later) or even “Chris” might have given them something to work with.

    Instead they went with the human interest angle: WEIRD BUT TRUE… IT’S LEGAL!!

    How many Anti-war protesters did you see interviewed before the 2003 invasion of Iraq? None of us were stupid enough to discrace the whole movement by showing up heavily armed. This man does so and is rewarded by lax scrutiny by the media, and us all yammering over his rights. He’s a wackjob and conservatives are too scared to condemn him.

  12. Illegal or not….only a nutjob would bring an armed firearm to a Presidential appearance. But, you did bring up valid points. CNN has really dropped the ball with their fact-checking lately. I agree with Molly’s post. The point was to intimidate. He shouldn’t have been allowed to carry it. I don’t think that people in the crowd should be allowed to bring guns. You can’t bring guns to a concert. Even though he just stood outside and he has every right to protest, why should he be allowed to bring a gun to Obama’s town hall meeting?

  13. Molly, Arizona has no such stipulation regarding open carry. Further, as an Arizona resident, I can confirm that the open carry of firearms is fairly common even in Phoenix and other big cities and not something that cops or others will bother you for. I frequently open carry and I’ve never been stopped or asked for ID by a police officer. The only reason that this is getting any attention is that national media was present, and they aren’t used to regular people with guns. That’s their problem, not ours.

  14. No. The “only reason” this is news is that we haven’t seen it before, presumably because generations of protesters had the brains to not make such a stupid and veiled display. I doubt the right wouldn’t be screaming like a stuck pig if Code Pink members were STRAPPED.

    But they are smart enough to see how that would hurt the cause over all. Not these idiots.

  15. You haven’t seen it before. It’s not new, it’s new to you.

  16. Really now? So when they were arresting people at Bush rallies for anti-war T-SHIRTS they were ignoring all the left-wingers outside carrying high-powered rifles?

    You’re right, I missed that.

  17. Does this assault weapon make my ass look fat?

  18. Wow, just set up those straw men and knock ’em down! I don’t recall mentioning anti-war protestors. In free states like Arizona or Virginia, it’s not uncommon for folks to openly carry firearms to city council meetings, political rallies, and similar events. Like I said, the difference between those events and this one is national media attention. Even the Secret Service says these guys are harmless. I trust them to know.

  19. Sorry my snarkyism confused you, here’s something you might understand better:

    You said:

    “You haven’t seen it before. It’s not new, it’s new to you.”

    You give examples in your next post that are not presidential appearances.

    Let me know if you have a link to an actual story about when we HAVE seen THIS before (not something else, cuz straw men confuse me).

    This has never happened before, that is why it is news. Feel free to prove me wrong with some good old fashioned facts.

  20. I said:
    “You haven’t seen it before. It’s not new, it’s new to you.”
    because your article makes it clear that you’re completely unfamiliar with the legality of open carry. I will concede that it’s not been common at Presidential appearances, but the practice itself has been around as long as firearms have. You don’t lose your rights just because the President is in town. Not your right to free speech, not your right to bear arms, nor your right to presumption of innocence. He could have been down there without any ID at all and would have been well within the law. Your claims to the contrary are completely unfounded.

  21. Yes you maintain your right to look as stupid and dangerous as you would otherwise.

    It hasn’t been uncommon, it hasn’t happened. Probably because most people have more SENSE. If you have a link to an article about a guy with an assault rifle at a presidential appearance (1963 doesn’t count), let me know.

    I didn’t claim to KNOW I claimed NOT to know, that was the point. I’d teach you these basic reading skills but I’m sure you’d rather not waste the tax dollars.

    The article is about what CNN missed, not what I know or don’t know.

    Have a nice day, we’re all done.

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