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
The mastermind behind ATH, J.
Robert Dobbs, later identified as David Gross, sent out press releases
to the media claiming, “An
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
Within 24 hours of the investigation, the department confirmed
ATH was, in fact, not a
“We talked to (Gross) and he said it was a hoax,” Gardiner
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
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.