Gun-totting man at Obama's rally raises safety fears
Within a week, yet another man showed up with an assault rifle outside the venue of President Barack Obama's meetings, raising concerns about the safety of the first black president in US history.world Updated: Aug 18, 2009 11:53 IST
Within a week, yet another man showed up with an assault rifle outside the venue of President Barack Obama's meetings, raising concerns about the safety of the first black president in US history.
Obama reportedly faces about 30 potential death threats every day, according to reports earlier this month.
With his rifle slung over his shoulder, the man was seen among protesters outside the venue in Phoenix in Arizona where Obama was addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars Monday.
According to local media outlets who identified the man as Chris, he was also carrying a pistol holstered at his side.
The man could be seen arguing heatedly with those rallying in support of Obama's heath-care reform plan, reports said.
But Phoenix police said its plainclothes detectives kept a watch on the man who broke no law under Second Amendment rights.
Arizona is an 'open-carry' state, legally allowing people to carry a firearm in public so long as it is visible to others. However, a permit is required to carry the weapon which is concealed.
This is the second such incident within a few days at the meetings addressed by Obama.
Last week, a protester was seen carrying a gun strapped to his thigh outside a town hall meeting addressed by Obama in New Hampshire state which also allows people to carry weapons openly.
But US Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said these incidents posed no threat to the president's security.
"We pay attention to this obviously ... to someone with a firearm when they open carry even when they are within state law.
"We work with our law enforcement counterparts to make sure laws and regulations in their states are enforced," he said.
But Obama supporters were clearly by perturbed by Monday's incident.
"It is extremely disturbing that you have that kind of weapon in close proximity to where the president is," Ruben Gallego, a retired military veteran and Arizona Democratic Party official, was quoted as saying.
"He was demonstrating his Second Amendment rights, but he was clearly there to intimidate people who were there exercising their First Amendment rights," Gallego said.
Obama is a target of about 30 potential death threats every day, according to a recent book.
Since Obama took office, threats to the US president have increased 400 per cent since President George W. Bush, says Ronald Kessler, author of 'In the President's Secret Service.'
Late last year, White supremacists in Tennessee had plotted to loot a gun store, kill 88 black people, decapitate another 14 and then shoot Obama.