Gun rights enthusiasts rally on steps of state Capitol
HARRISBURG — A couple hundred gun rights enthusiasts attended an annual pro-gun rally on the Pennsylvania Capitol steps Monday, with many pushing for a proposal to let anyone who can legally possess firearms to conceal them without a license or permit when carrying them in public.
The organizer of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Rally, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, said the attendance may have been the lowest in the 16 years for the event. Dozens of Republican representatives and senators, however, were there ahead of what was a legislative business day.
Mick McGuire, an Army veteran who manages a mechanic’s shop for a vehicle fleet, posed for photos at the rally while holding a rifle, with a handgun strapped to his side.
McGuire, who lives near New Castle, said he was in attendance to “show all the politicians and people here at the Statehouse that the Second Amendment isn’t dead.”
Chris Dorr with the Pennsylvania Firearms Association said he wanted to see movement on gun rights legislation.
“I’m really hoping to see some leadership out of these Republicans,” said Dorr, who is married and has seven children. Dorr, of Mount Joy, said his family is why he carries a gun.
“I need to make sure I make it home to them every day,” Dorr said.
In the past, the annual rally has drawn far more people, sometimes packing the Capitol’s cavernous Rotunda.
“Today’s rally is a reminder of, I think, the shrinking influence of the greedy gun lobby, who is refusing to address a public health crisis that destroys the lives of thousands of Pennsylvanians every year,” said Adam Garber, executive director of CeaseFire PA, the state’s leading gun violence prevention organization.
During the event, a group of seven uniformed, heavily armed men walked up, calling themselves members of the Pittsburgh-based Iron City Citizen Response Unit militia. Leaders identified themselves only as “Hammer” and “Gucci” and said their focus was support for the Second Amendment.
Metcalfe said the rally was to press for legislative priorities such as the “constitutional carry” bill and a proposal to limit local gun ordinances that are more restrictive than state or federal law.