Phoenix Police Detective J. Oliver, one of three officers assigned to monitor a man carrying a semi-automatic weapon, told The Arizona Republic the man was not breaking any laws.
“We’re here to keep the peace,” he said. “If we need to intervene, we will intervene at that time.”
The man, who also carried a pistol and identified himself only as Chris, debated Obama’s healthcare policy with others in the crowd while the president addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars national conference.
“It is extremely disturbing that you have that kind of weapon in close proximity to where the president is,” Ruben Gallego, a military veteran and state Democratic Party official, said. “He was demonstrating his Second Amendment rights, but he was clearly there to intimidate people who were there exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Arizona law allows people to carry weapons openly but a permit is required to carry a concealed weapon.
Protesters have carried guns in recent days at town hall meetings, including one the president attended last week in New Hampshire.