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By Stephen Lemons
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K: Oh, really? From the Arizona area?
W: Yeah. Ma'am, people here have a lot of guns. I mean, there are a lot of guns in Arizona. . . . But the thing is, with each individual gun, we have to check it out. We have to make sure that it works, we have to test fire it, clean it, all that. It's a time-consuming process . . .
K: Okay. Um--if I would be interested in doing a story, would you be willing to work with me?
K: And only me?
K: I mean just me, right? Okay?
W: No other TV media, is what you're saying?
K: Right, uh-huh.
W: What about local stations, because I suspect some of them may show up at our action today, wanting to do interviews.
K: Well, the thing is that, uh, I mean, obviously if they show up today there's nothing you can do about that, but, uh, some of the news magazines like Dateline for instance, will use their local reporters to get a story.
W: What, what about if I don't speak to them, but what about if Honey Hawk, our minister of information, speaks to them, but you will have the only interview with Pete Whippit, founder of Arm the Homeless?
K: Okay. Well, if she speaks with them, I guess what I'm asking is to keep it minimal. No in-depth stuff.
W: Okay . . .
K: And Pete, you're 33?
W: That's correct.
K: And you're a Marine Recon combat veteran?
W: That's correct.
K: What does that mean, exactly?
W: Just what it says. . . . There's been a lot of doubts cast on whether I was actually in the military, and --
K: No, no. I just don't know what it means. I'm just trying to figure out what it means, "Marine Recon." You know. I mean, I've done stories on the Marines and so forth before, but --
W: A lot of what I did for the Marines is classified. I can't discuss it at length. But basically it involved reconnaissance in hostile territory.
K: Okay. Are you from Arizona?
W: No. I'm from Alaska originally. Um, I spent some time here in my youth, and once I came out of Africa, my girlfriend moved here, and I followed her.
K: Honey Hawk, what's his --
W: That's a she. Honey's our minister of information.
K: And what does she -- why do you call her "minister of information"?
W: Well, basically she handles our PR.
K: Uh-huh. I'm just curious why "minister of information." It sounds like a country.
W: Hmmm. Yeah, I guess you're right. Maybe we should change that.
K: No, no. I'm just curious. I'm not telling you to change it. Now, how did she get involved in this?
W: Well, I met her at a gun show. That's how I handled all my recruiting. Basically, I put up a booth with a sign that said "Don't you think homeless people need weapons too?" and people stopped to talk to me, and a substantial number agreed with my philosophy, and that's how I got Honey and most of the other founding members.
K: How many members are there?
W: Right now we have 27 active members in ATH Phoenix.
K: And what do active members do?
W: Well, they help us acquire firearms. . . . They also handle test firing of donated weapons. If someone wants to donate a weapon, they'll go to their house and . . . accept the weapon and issue a certificate of donation. . . . They were also on-site at the giveaway to conduct training courses.
K: Now, the local government hasn't given you a hard time about this?
W: No. Not so far. . . . We carefully researched it, and what we're doing is perfectly legal under Arizona gun laws. It's just one private individual giving a gun to another. So there's no problem there.
K: Is the NRA supportive of you?
W: We have not requested nor received an official statement from the NRA.
K: I'm just curious if you're affiliated with any other kinds of organizations.
W: Not directly. . . . I can say this much: We have received $10,000 in contributions from, uh, Second Amendment rights supporters; now some of them may or may not be officials in other Second Amendment groups. I really can't go into that.
K: Okay, um, all right, now . . . you probably won't hear from me again until Monday. Now, 602-440-1136, is the best way to get ahold of you?
W: Yes it is.
K: You answer that fairly frequently?
W: We monitor that line 24-7.
K: Okay, Pete, now you have my number?
W: Yes I do. Now, what exactly do you do for CBS News?
K: I'm a producer for 60 Minutes II. A segment producer. Okay?
K: Okay, Pete. Thank you very much.
W: Thank you, Janet.
As Devo once sang: Whippit good.
Not long after Klein finished that interview, she called Arm the Homeless again. "Pete, Pete, pick up," she pleaded.
Then she left a voice mail for the editor of New Times:
"This is Janet Klein from 60 Minutes II, and, ha-ha, good story. We didn't realize -- we didn't really believe it, but we called the hotline anyway and the guy was fairly convincing. Anyway, it was funny. I'm wondering why -- what you're doing? Anyway, thanks."
Her incredulity no doubt necessitated her demand for an exclusive.