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Foreign Correspondent -

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It was a fateful, dreadful confluence of the sort of freedoms that are fiercely protected by many
Americans. A congresswoman takes open political debate to an informal suburban setting outside a
Safeway supermarket. A man carrying automatic guns - readily and easily available in the state -
walks up to Gabby Giffords' Congress on the Corner and opens fire.

When the Gunsmoke cleared and accused gunman Jared Loughner had been wrestled to the ground and
disarmed, six people were dead and many more injured, including Ms Giffords - who's remarkable
against-the-odds survival would dominate new coverage for weeks.

A largely unreported aspect of the shooting was that one of the dead - Chief Judge of Arizona's
District Court - had years earlier upheld a legal challenge to federal laws requiring more
thorough, mandatory background checks on people buying guns.

A local Arizona sheriff named Richard Mack took that challenge all the way to the Supreme Court and
won. Appearing before another Tea Party gathering and participating in Foreign Correspondent's
examination of a state thrust into the global spotlight, Richard Mack remains a fierce advocate for
liberal gun laws and a critic of an interfering Federal Government.

"The one thing we know about gun control it has never provided security, safety, freedom or peace,
ever, so why do our leaders try to pretend it might have something magical in America. I think the
50 states would be much better off without Washington DC. The federal government was created by the
states not the other way around." RICHARD MACK, former Sheriff.

At gun shows convened in Arizona's big cities in the weeks following the shooting, at
pistol-packing gymkhanas outside Tombstone, scene of the legendary Gunfight at the OK Corral, and
down on the border where armed militia provide voluntary backup to official patrol for 'illegals'
crossing into the US from Mexico, Arizonans agree wholeheartedly.

From a porch looking south toward the border with Mexico, loner Eugene Kambouris scopes the horizon
with binoculars and cusses about a lily-livered, politically correct Washington.

"I gotta gun in every room. Am I a bigot? Yeah, sure. I think everybody is to a degree. Am I a
racist? Oh maybe. OK. Am I mad and fed up about the illegal problem? Damn right." EUGENE KAMBOURIS

At the OK Café in Tombstone Carmen Mercer takes orders for burgers and coffee and when she locks up
for the night heads out with her Minuteman Civil Defence Corps volunteers and gives orders as she
and her civilian posse patrol a border yielding 'tens of thousands' a month from Mexico. "There are
militias out there that are saying now, we will not back up. If we come across a drug cartel, we
will shoot back. That sort of mood wasn't there six seven eight years ago but it certainly has
changed." CARMEN MERCER, Minuteman leader

North America Correspondent Michael Brissenden heads deep into the heart of Arizona where many
folks believe passionately that guns mean freedom and where plenty are prepared to defend their
state from the intrusions of their federal government and what some call an 'invasion' from the
south.

Transcript

EUGENE KAMBOURIS: I keep my back door locked here now. Never had to do that. Used to leave the door
open, you know to get the air flowing through, whatever. Not anymore. I've got a gun in every room
- all except for the bathroom. I don't have one in the potty. I carry a gun whenever I leave this
house.

BRISSENDEN: Eugene Kambouris lives alone in a little house in what looks like the middle of
nowhere, but the way he sees it he's living on a dangerous freeway where the traffic is people and
drugs... and so he's heavily armed.

EUGENE KAMBOURIS: If they want in, they're going to get in. I don't care how many bars you've got,
how many locks you've got. If they want in, they're coming in. You know but no, I've got a gun in
every room.

BRISSENDEN: This curmudgeonly old timer calls it as he sees it and living on the edge a long way
from Washington and spitting distance from Mexico, he sees his nation going as they say, to hell in
a hand basket - soft on illegal immigrants, drug traffickers and violent criminals.

EUGENE KAMBOURIS: You put a bunch of law abiding citizens out there with sniper rifles and knock
about six or seven of them down and let them hang on that fence, they ain't going to be coming
across no more. But see you can't do that because we're so civilised and that's what's happened to
us - we've become so politically correct.

BRISSENDEN: He doesn't move like he use to. He suffers a host of health problems and yet what he
lacks in physical intimidation, he makes up for with resolve and ammunition on his own patrol for
the enemy.

EUGENE KAMBOURIS: Am I a bigot? Yeah (blows raspberry) sure. I think everybody is to a degree. Am I
a racist? Yeah, maybe. Okay, am I mad and fed up about the illegal problem? Damn right.

BRISSENDEN: Eugene Kambouris has a small arsenal but his guns aren't registered. In Arizona they
don't need to be.

EUGENE KAMBOURIS: Am I for stricter gun control? No. I've been a gunman all my life. My dad was in
law enforcement, my daughter's in law enforcement now. But by the same token, I have a concealed
carry permit. Okay I've been trained. I'm not a bad guy.

(NEWS REPORT ON MASS SHOOTING IN ARIZONA)

BRISSENDEN: Those who knew him thought he was strange, even scary but a bad guy capable of mass
killing? Accused murderer Jared Loughner was just another Arizonan gun owner until a bloody
shooting that shocked the state, the nation and the world.

SHERIFF DUPNIK: All I can tell you is that there's reason to believe that this individual may have
a mental issue and I think that people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol.

BRISSENDEN: The gun smoke had barely cleared before the massacre was being blamed on caustic
politics. The use of cross hairs in a campaign against federal health care reforms was singled out
as a provocation. The local sheriff was in no doubt.

SHERIFF DUPNIK: When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out
of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, a bigotry that goes on
in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of
the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.

BRISSENDEN: Suddenly a low profile state was centre stage in an incendiary drama about individual
freedom, guns and the future of the country.

GABRIEL CHIN (LAW PROFESSOR, ARIZONA UNIVERSITY): Arizona sees itself as a western state, as a
conservative state, a rural state, a libertarian state. People should be allowed to have guns.
People should be encouraged to have guns. That's the kind of state we are.

It has to do with the idea of ending a message to people who are against guns, sending a message to
Washington DC, it's the principle of the thing.

EUGENE KAMBOURIS: This guy that shot the people in Tucson, the existing gun laws allowed him to get
that weapon, okay? There's not a law in the book that's going figure out that guy was crazy or
schizo or whatever it's turned out that he's known... not normal. There's no way to tell that anybody
who goes in there and buys a weapon is not going to out and shoot somebody.

BRISSENDEN: Just weeks after the shooting and as congresswoman's Gifford's fragile recovery
continued, touch and go, at a city hospital, one of the Tucson's most popular events opened
regardless. It's called "The Crossroads of the West Gun Show" and it's pulling record crowds.

MAN AT GUN SHOW: It's an AR 15. It came out right in the latter part of the Vietnam war and they
shoot a high-powered shell and it's got good trajectory and all that stuff and yes there's a lot of
these guns in this country.

BRISSENDEN: To outsiders it might seem extraordinary that a mass gun slaying a few kilometres away
hasn't given pause, but the gun show goes on.

BOB TEMPLETON: In the southwest here in Arizona, people are very what we call pro gun, very much in
favour of the individual right to own and use firearms as long as it's done lawfully.

BRISSENDEN: For gun show boss Bob Templeton there was never any question, this event and another in
Phoenix were going ahead.

BOB TEMPLETON: We have 180 million gun owners in the United States of America. We have one guy that
goes off the rails and commits a horrible act of violence like he did, should a 180 million gun
owners who use guns lawfully in their regular activities be penalised for a mentally ill person who
clearly had an agenda and perpetrated one of the most heinous crimes we've ever seen. There are
those politicians who have already attempted to capitalise on this tragedy.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Thirty-four. That is the average number of Americans murdered with guns every
single day.

BRISSENDEN: And it wouldn't be long before anti gun politicians would focus on the gun shows as
well.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: After the tragic massacre in Tucson we decided to investigate the issue in
Arizona.

INVESTIGATOR: (at gun show) I'm looking for something like this - you know, 9mm, with stopping
power... and uh, you know, something that's concealable.

BRISSENDEN: Foreign Correspondent was barred from filming inside the Tucson gun show. Anti gun New
York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was undeterred, despatching a clandestine camera crew to sting the
Phoenix event.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: The first video illustrates just how easy it is for anyone with a drivers
license to walk into a gun show and buy the weapons used in the Tucson shooting. No questions
asked. Let's take a look.

(HIDDEN CAMERA FOOTAGE OF MAN BUYING GUN)

INVESTIGATOR: So no background check?

SELLER AT GUN SHOW: No.

INVESTIGATOR: That's good because I probably couldn't pass one, you know what I mean?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: If you have a criminal record, a history of drug abuse or even if your name
appears on a terrorist watch list, you can still walk into a gun show and buy a 9 mm in the time it
would take to buy a hamburger and fries at McDonalds.

CHARLES HELLER: It's irrational to talk about disarming the victims. You don't disarm the victims,
you arm the victims. A couple of years ago someone in Las Vegas drove a car through a crowd of
people. There was no call to lessen the size of gas tanks so that he could mow down less people and
it's no different with firearms, it really is absolutely no different. It's also it's irrational to
punish the innocent for the acts of the guilty. I don't misbehave with my firearms. I don't know or
associate with anyone that does and so it's irrational to talk about limiting firearms by people
who have no intent to commit bad behaviour with them.

BRISSENDEN: Charles Heller hosts a radio show called "America Armed and Free" and like so many
enthusiasts here, he believes the power of the gun goes well beyond what's in the chamber.

CHARLES HELLER: Firearms are also a tool of freedom and a symbol thereof. I mean after all you know
free men and free women own guns and subjects do not.

BRISSENDEN: Arizona is not just a border state with a frontier mentality. It's increasingly a
political and cultural frontier as well. A place where the constitutional mantra of personal
freedom and liberty enshrined in the 1700s collides with the social and political realities that
are dividing America in the 21st century. And that makes Arizona fertile ground for the Tea Party.

Arizona and the grass roots conservative movement were a match up waiting to happen. The Tea Party
espouses ideas and themes that had been resonating here for many years.

FORMER SHERIFF RICHARD MACK: (addressing crowd) And one thing we know about gun control, it has
never provided security, safety, freedom or peace - ever! So why do our leaders try to pretend that
it might have something magical in America.

BRISSENDEN: At this gathering in Tucson, a former district sheriff Richard Mack has the crowd
eating out of the palm of his hand.

FORMER SHERIFF RICHARD MACK: The greatest threat to our God given constitutional American liberty
is our own federal government. I wish to the dear Lord that it wasn't true. I wish we didn't have
to have a Tea Party movement. They created the Tea Party movement, not us.

BRISSENDEN: Richard Mack's a bona fide hero here, not simply because he casts Washington as the
enemy but because he took on the federal government and won in a case that helped enshrine
Arizona's liberal gun laws.

(walking down the street) How long were you the sheriff here?

FORMER SHERIFF RICHARD MACK: Eight years. Grew up here, walked these streets hundreds of times.

BRISSENDEN: In 1994 Sheriff Mack led a legal challenge against the Clinton Administration's plans
to force sheriffs to conduct background checks on anyone wanting to purchase a gun. He won.

FORMER SHERIFF RICHARD MACK: If you look at my lawsuit it says that the states cannot be compelled
or forced to participate in any federal regulatory programmes. That's right out of the lawsuit. The
federal government is not our boss, my lawsuit says it, I knew it before the lawsuit said it. I
think the fifty states would be much better off without Washington DC. The federal government was
created by the states, not the other way around and at this point the federal government has become
part of the problem.

BRISSENDEN: The explosion of Mexico's drug cartels has accelerated the traffic of people and drugs
across the border. At times, Arizona can feel like a state under siege. Raids on workplaces and
arrests of illegal immigrants are an every day occurrence. And then there's a new and very
controversial law known as SB 1070. It makes failure to carry immigration documents a crime and
gives police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

FORMER SHERIFF RICHARD MACK: They are either committing crime or using government entitlements that
have to increase and increase and increase, which is now another burden on the taxpayer who can't
afford to keep up with what we're already paying for. We can't afford to continue fourteen trillion
dollar debt and to have 100,000 more people coming to our country every month who get on the
welfare rolls.

BRISSENDEN: And so Arizona's border with Mexico has become a polarising divide, a deep political
line in the sand. This stretch of the border, officially the Tucson sector is more than 400 km
long. At times the traffic is staggering. In one day in May last year, authorities captured close
to 700 making the dash to America. It's not unusual for the sector's 3000 border patrol agents to
arrest more than 20,000 a month.

But for some in this state, that official patrol isn't nearly enough.

DOUG EVANS: They say they're handling it but if they did we would not have 20 million illegals.

BRISSENDEN: Arizona's home to one of American history's great legends, where grievances were
settled by individuals in a blaze of gunfire, the gunfight at the OK Corral. And for these cowboys
living the legend just outside Tombstone, the enemy is just over the rise. It's those illegal
immigrants surging across the border.

DOUG EVANS: Well you know what they don't understand about illegals is they're illegal. You know
it's an illegal activity and I feel empathy for those people but we still need to get control of
it. In the Constitution of the United States it says I believe it's Section 4, Section 8 Article 4,
it says the states of the United States shall be protected against invasion by the federal
government and I feel that 20 million illegals is an invasion.

BRISSENDEN: Doug Evans likes nothing better than putting on his spurs and his hat and reliving the
days when life out here depended on a good horse and a fast draw. For a few here, this is fun. For
others it's a serious drill. Since Barack Obama became President, the number of civilian militia
has exploded. One respected watchdog says at least 100 new militia groups have formed in the last
two years. Tombstone is a centre of vigilante activism and cowboy Doug is a member of one of the
biggest groups of them all, the Minuteman Civil Defence Corp.

CARMEN MERCER: I'm an immigrant as you know. I mean I was born and raised in Germany and I went
through the whole process and you know I did the fingerprinting and the very thorough health check.
I mean those are the things that are not happening anymore.

BRISSENDEN: Carmen Mercer makes coffee and burgers at Tombstone's OK Café and when she's not taking
orders, she's giving them. She's one of the co-founders of the Minuteman Group.

CARMEN MERCER: We love this country and we want to make sure that everything is done correctly. We
have got laws on the books but they're not being enforced.

BRISSENDEN: At night she's out with her Minutemen scouring the desert looking for illegals. Out
there they call this German immigrant turned fiercely patriotic American, "Scorpion".

CARMEN MERCER: There are militias out there that are saying now we will not back up if we come
across a drug cartel, we will shoot back. And so that shows you, you know those.... that kind of
mood was not there six, seven, eight years ago but it certainly has changed.

BRISSENDEN: The Minuteman vigilantes say they have no time for the extremism of some other groups.
They don't directly engage with any illegal immigrants or drug runners. They're simply spotters for
the border patrol and they report anything they find. But their operations are planned and they do
go out heavily armed. Tonight they have plenty of firepower with them in case their targets come
armed.

YOUNG MINUTEMAN: Yeah this is a main thoroughfare for the illegals, and we consider our main
hotspot, which is like a funnel, 'cause they're all shooting for the highway 86 up there where that
light is.

BRISSENDEN: They use heat sensor binoculars to spot any movement.

CARMEN MERCER: He said he was heading down that way. He may be going to the house. You copy that?
This is Scorpion.

We feel for the people that, I mean if I were living in Mexico I would probably do the same thing
that they're doing, you know? I mean how can you live down there? But I'm a very proud citizen of
the United States and I am very.... I think if we have to obey the law, everybody else has to do
the same thing.

BRISSENDEN: It's a slow cold night in the desert where the Minuteman scouts provide the only
discernable movement and it doesn't go unnoticed. The official border patrol thunders in out of
darkness concerned Carmen's crew is a bunch of illegals.

YOUNG MINUTEMAN: (to Border Patrol) You scared the Australians.

BRISSENDEN: In the end we're the only foreigners this posse will see tonight, but they'll be back
at it again soon, filling the holes they see in America's defences.

CARMEN MERCER: I think many of our people will stay on the border until it is secured, but many of
our people have also joined the Tea Party groups and many of our people are also happy with the
efforts that we have put in for the last eight years because the attention is there. It's not going
to go away anymore. The sleeping giant has awakened.

BRISSENDEN: And now even well away from the border in the cities and towns, Tea Party leaders like
Sheriff Mack are finding their views are becoming more mainstream than ever.

FORMER SHERIFF RICHARD MACK: A lot of people have called me radical and some of us were joking as I
was coming in, if you believe in the Constitution you're a radical you know? If you believe in God
and read the Bible you're a radical. And if you believe in the Constitution and read the Bible, man
you're really a radical.

BRISSENDEN: For these people Arizona is more than just a state, it's a state of mind.

GABRIEL CHIN: I think it's turned out to be something of a cultural bellwether. I think the Arizona
legislature was the tea party before there was a tea party. I think that you know the ideas that I
hear that are coming from the Tea Party movement are things that have been on the books here for a
long time. Or have been on the legislative agenda for a long time.

BRISSENDEN: Six people died in the tragic Tucson shooting, one of them was John Roll, the judge
that first supported Richard Mack's challenge to the Clinton gun laws. In Arizona, freedom has
always come backed by the gun. The tragedy of the Tucson shooting isn't going to change that.

FORMER SHERIFF RICHARD MACK: In America the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
We've got to remember that we're based on God, family and country and the Constitution is an
integral part of that and how we protect ourselves is by protecting the Constitution and the God
given rights that it was designed to protect.