On Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie touted "such a bizarre story" of a doctor legally carrying a gun into a Phoenix airport. In the two-minute report that followed, correspondent Tamron Hall explained that Dr. Peter Steinmetz, a neurological researcher, "was arrested after he pointed the gun at a woman and her young daughter." Hall declared: "Police think he may have just wanted to make a statement about the right to bear arms." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Another armed doctor who recently made news was Dr. Lee Silverman, who heroically stopped a shooter at a Pennsylvania hospital on Thursday. Friday's Today offered a mere 33-second news brief on that story.
During Tuesday's report on Dr. Steinmetz, Hall noted the details of the airport incident that suggested the pointing of the gun at anyone may have been accidental: "In a statement, police say Steinmetz 'had removed the assault rifle from his shoulder. While doing so, the rifle was pointed at a female along with her 17-year-old daughter. Officers spoke with the victims who indicated they were fear for their safety.'"
She repeated the assumption that Steinmetz was making a political statement: "And police believe Steinmetz may have been trying to prove a point about gun rights."
While NBC's morning show found time for a open-carry gun owner being arrested, the network has failed to cover a federal judge overturning Washington D.C.'s gun ban.
Here is a full transcript of Hall's July 29 report:
7:32 AM ET
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: We'll begin this half hour, though, with such a bizarre story out of Arizona. A 54-year-old research doctor arrested after he entered an airport terminal carrying an assault rifle. And Tamron's got the story on this. Tamron, good morning to you.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Man Carries Rifle In Airport; Doctor Allegedly Points Weapon At Mom & Daughter]
TAMRON HALL: Good morning, everyone. Dr. Peter Steinmetz was carrying an AR-15 over his shoulder when he was taken into custody last week. He told police he visited the airport to simply buy a cup of coffee, but was arrested after he pointed the gun at a woman and her young daughter. Police think he may have just wanted to make a statement about the right to bear arms.
This newly-released surveillance video shows Phoenix police confronting Dr. Peter Steinmetz at Sky Harbor Airport last Friday afternoon. The 54-year-old scientist was seen walking near a Starbucks in an unsecure area of the terminal with an AR-15-style rifle slung over his shoulder.
In a statement, police say Steinmetz "had removed the assault rifle from his shoulder. While doing so, the rifle was pointed at a female along with her 17-year-old daughter. Officers spoke with the victims who indicated they were fear for their safety."
Police say Steinmetz told them that he went to the airport only to buy a cup of coffee and had no other business there. Authorities saying it's not illegal to have a gun in the airport's non-secure areas. And police believe Steinmetz may have been trying to prove a point about gun rights. He was arrested and charged with one count of disorderly conduct with a weapon, a class-6 felony.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN [JUDGE, MARICOPA SUPERIOR COURT]: You are not to possess any weapons.
HALL: During his arraignment on Monday, a judge told Steinmetz that as part of his bond agreement, he is not allowed to possess weapons.
PETER STEINMETZ: When you say I can have no weapons, what precisely do you mean by that?
JUDGE: It means no weapons.
HALL: Steinmetz is a high-ranking doctor at Barrow Neurological Institute overseeing brain research. In a statement, the hospital said, "We are aware of the situation and are taking it very seriously." Dr. Steinmetz was released after paying his own $5,000 bond.
Can you imagine how frightening that was for people in that airport, especially that mother and her daughter?
GUTHRIE: Oh, yeah, of all places. Tamron, thank you very much.