HARRISBURG — Hundreds and hundreds of gun rights supporters filled the steps of the Pennsylvania Capitol on Tuesday, vowing to keep up their fight over the Second Amendment a week after a gun control proposal lost a critical vote in Congress.
The Second Amendment Action Day, an annual event in recent years, featured speakers who warned attendees their safety and the well-being of their families is at stake.
Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Allegheny, was among several who referred to the state constitution's gun provision that states the right of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.
"What part of 'shall not be questioned' don't they understand?" Saccone said to cheers.
Among the crowd was Chris Sweeney of Kittanning, a Republican candidate for Armstrong County sheriff. He said he was concerned about efforts to limit gun rights.
"I just don't want to see it eroded any further," Sweeney said.
At the edge of the crowd, CeaseFirePA executive director Shira Goodman said misinformation was being spread concerning her group's objectives.
"We've always been focused on how can we keep illegal guns off the streets," Goodman said. "Nobody is trying to take guns away from law-abiding gun owners."
She said her group and rally organizers agree on the need to treat gun crimes seriously.
Retired printer Richard Beidel drove from his home in Fayetteville because he's worried about the potential he could lose the guns he uses for hunting, target practice and protection.
"They've already taken our bibles, our prayer, our Ten Commandments out of our schools," said Beidel, carrying a sign with much the same message. "The way things are going now, you need a gun in your home for your family's protection."
Lawmakers at the rally spoke in favor of a bill, sponsored by rally organizer Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, the Right to Bear Arms Protection Act.
The proposal, known as House Bill 357, would prevent enforcement of any new federal restrictions, prohibitions or registration requirements for firearms, magazines or ammunition.
Rep. Matt Gabler, R-Clearfield, said the bill would "make sure the federal government is put back in their place."
Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-Allegheny, brought up the Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, which was canceled in February after its ban on assault weapons triggered a boycott and vendor backlash.
"When you start losing millions of dollars, it separates the men from the boys," Readshaw said.