The gun rights debate has swept up Appleton, Wisc. after two men showed up at a farmers market there last weekend with AR-15 rifles strapped over their shoulders and handguns in their holsters.
Charles Branstrom, 27, and Ross Bauman, 22, were held at gunpoint and placed in handcuffs by police for the stunt last Saturday, prompting outrage from a local pro-gun group.
"I would never blame police for following up on 'man with a gun' calls, but they still have to behave within the limits of the law and abide by people's constitutional rights," Nik Clark, president of the gun rights group Wisconsin Carry, Inc. told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I believe the police were acting outside of their legal authority when they pointed guns at the individuals and involuntarily detained them."
The two men were not ticketed and were ultimately released without charges, but Branstrom recorded the confrontation with police. After six minutes, a police officer attempted to turn off the device but only managed to stop the video recording. The device captured 45 minutes of audio.
According to the Journal Sentinel, the recording shows Branstrom and Bauman walking down the street when they are confronted by police who ask why they are brandishing their weapons.
"For self-defense," Branstrom said.
When an officer identified their weapons as "real AR-15s," he directed his own firearm at them.
"Do you understand how that might create a disturbance if you're walking around with an AR-15 strapped to your back?" an officer asked them.
"Yeah, I guess some people don't like guns," Branstrom said.
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn dismissed the Second Amendment argument levied by pro-gun groups while denouncing both Branstrom and Bauman.
"In a post Aurora-Newtown environment, it's a reckless and irresponsible stunt to strut around in public with an assault-style weapon and think police should assume you're well-intentioned," Flynn told the Journal Sentinel. "It's just absurd. This has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. These characters and those who support them should be ashamed of themselves."