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White House Backs Right to Bear Arms, Even Outside Obama Events, if State Laws Allow

A man with an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle joins protesters outside an event in Phoenix where President Obama was discussing health-care reform.
A man with an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle joins protesters outside an event in Phoenix where President Obama was discussing health-care reform. (By Jack Kurtz -- Associated Press)
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"Obviously there's a lot of emotion with health care," Dillihay said. "Feelings are very tense, and we were just trying to make sure that things were safe."

One man at the meeting disclosed that he had a firearm and complied with a request to put it in his vehicle, she said.

Other lawmakers said they intended to take no precautions in future town hall meetings or to ask the advice of local law enforcement. C.J. Karamargin, a spokesman for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), said the congresswoman will "balance rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment and providing her constituents with a safe forum to share their views."

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino, said concern about whether Obama will enact new gun restrictions may also be contributing to the tense political climate.

"There's a lot of anger out there," Levin said.

"A key thing that's been bubbling under the surface is what's going on with President Obama and guns," he said. "There is a real question mark not only for extremists but for gun rights advocates in the mainstream."

Staff writer Carrie Johnson contributed to this report.


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