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Arm The Homeless

MUSTANG DAILY

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 1996

Arm the Homeless program dupes local television station

By Leslie Miyamato
Daily Staff Writer

Local media was stung after a program designed to hand out weapons to the homeless turned out to be a hoax.

Arm the Homeless (ATH) claimed to be a program that gave the homeless access to weapons in order to protect themselves.

The mastermind behind ATH, J. Robert Dobbs, later identified as David Gross, sent out press releases to the media claiming, “An ATH ‘Empowerment Crew’ will be in San Luis Obispo to perform outreach, fund raising, firearm safety training and to distribute donated firearms and ammunition to local homeless people.”

Gross contacted the San Luis Obispo County Telegram-Tribune and KSBY-TV to inform them of the program’s philosophies — which included blaming society.

“They are not only homeless, they are powerless. Because they have no money they are treated as though they have no rights. Government does not help them, the ‘charitable’ public ignores them or condemns them and the police harass them and destroy their makeshift dwellings,” stated the press release.

The ATH literature also stated that a firearm works as “the great equalizer,” claiming that a homeless person with a gun is just as powerful as his wealthy or politically powerful counterpart.

When KSBY reporters received the press release, they called the San Luis Obispo Police Department to investigate the program.

“We were called in to do some background and told them that it appears to be a hoax to us,” said San Luis Obispo Police Chief James Gardiner.

Within 24 hours of the investigation, the department confirmed ATH was, in fact, not a legitimate program.

“We talked to (Gross) and he said it was a hoax,” Gardiner said.

In the meantime, KSBY had already broadcast the story on its evening news program.

“We knew within about 24 hours that the story was a hoax and KSBY had already fallen for it hook, line and sinker,” Gardiner said.

KSBY General Manager Dick Armfield was unavailable for comment as to why KSBY ran the story without waiting for the results of the background check.

The Telegram-Tribune did not run an article and the editorial staff did not want to comment on the matter.

Students who saw the story on KSBY were shocked that such a program supposedly existed.

“I was sitting there watching the news and I was thinking, ‘Why would someone want to give guns to homeless people?’” said business administration senior Robit Dahwan.

Carlie Johnson agreed.

“I thought it was dumb. It’s like our crime rate is already high enough as it is. I don’t see how giving guns to the homeless would benefit any community,” said the recreation administration junior.

No charges have been pressed against Gross, but the police are investigating the case. Gross was involved in a similar incident, in which he placed propaganda about a “Man Boy Love Association” on utility poles.

TV News Anchor
'J. Robert Dobbs,' ATH President



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