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August 18th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

Man carries assault rifle to Obama protest - and it's legal

PHOENIX, Arizona (CNN) - A man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Barack Obama's speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken. It was the second instance in recent days in which unconcealed weapons have appeared near presidential events.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/08/17/obama.protest.rifle/art.obama.gun.pool.jpg caption="A man is shown legally carrying a rifle at a protest against President Obama on Monday in Phoenix, Arizona."]

Video from the protest in Phoenix, Arizona, shows the man standing with other protesters, with the rifle slung over his right shoulder.

Phoenix police said authorities monitored about a dozen people carrying weapons while peacefully demonstrating.

"It was a group interested in exercising the right to bear arms," said police spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill.

Arizona law has nothing in the books regulating assault rifles, and only requires permits for carrying concealed weapons. So despite the man's proximity to the president, there were no charges or arrests to be made. Hill said officers explained the law to some people who were upset about the presence of weapons at the protest.

"I come from another state where 'open carry' is legal, but no one does it, so the police don't really know about it and they harass people, arrest people falsely," the man, who wasn't identified, said in an interview aired by CNN affiliate KNVX. "I think that people need to get out and do it more so that they get kind of conditioned to it."

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