On Monday, a dozen people packing heat -- including at least one man carrying a semi-automatic assault rifle -- were spotted at a pro-health care rally next to the convention where President Obama was speaking. While it appeared at the time to be a random incident, similar to several other gun sightings at health care events, it's become clear today that this time the gun show was at least partially planned.
The man with the semi-automatic (referred to in interviews as "Chris," no last name) was spotted at the protest by CNN news cameras, in the middle of a Q&A. Today, his interviewer -- Ernest Hancock of conservative talk radio show Declare Your Independence With Ernest Hancock -- went on CNN and explained to host Rick Sanchez that he and Chris were actually in the middle of a radio broadcast. Hancock, also packing heat at the rally, had invited Chris to come down the protest with his rifle to be interviewed. The two men had known each other for two years, through their work for presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
During the segment on CNN, Rick Sanchez said, "the more we look into this, the more it appears that it was really planned." Hancock concurred: "Oh, it's more planned than you think." In addition to scheduling the interview, Hancock had also informed the local police force.
As the interview continued, Rick Sanchez loudly exclaimed, "This was a publicity stunt!"
"Oh absolutely," Hancock responded.
Sanchez pushed on, "isn't there something terribly disingenuous about putting people on like that? And isn't there also something a little bit... dangerous about playing these kinda games--"
"Oh, it's not a game," Chris interjected.
"---with what I imagine is a loaded weapon," Sanchez continued.
"We know what we're up against," Hancock continued. "We're up against a tyrannical government that will rob the next generation as long as they can get away with it."
Although Chris and Hancock were conducting their interview at a health care rally, their discussion focused on guns.
"Is it your advocacy that by having guns here we're probably all safer?" Hancock asked. Chris "absolutely" agreed. He then went on to explain how he was always armed, even when riding his motorcycle, though not always when he showered: "Sometimes when I take a shower I set it down on the sink."
Chris is also featured in a YouTube video produced by the libertarian group Freedom's Phoenix. In this video he expounds further on his right to bear arms. He also explains that he is "absolutely totally against health care... health care in this way, in this manner, stealing it from people. I don't think that's appropriate."
Despite being heavily-armed at all times, Chris didn't seem to have violent intentions. At the beginning of the video, someone asks Chris whether he plans to "water the tree of liberty." Chris responded, "I hope not."
This is a reference to a Jefferson quote, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants." Another gun bearing protester in New Hampshire, William Kostric, was holding a sign with that same Jefferson quote. He apparently served as an inspiration to the two men. From Hancock's interview on CNN: "It was Thursday that I called and talked to Al Ramirez, the representative from the Phoenix police department, and we were discussing -- we've been around this rhetoric that was building up around William Kostric, who did this in New Hampshire."