Gun owners rally for their Second Amendment rights at Pennsylvania state capitol

(AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Several dozen gun owners and Second Amendment supporters gathered in defense of their right to keep and bear arms at the state capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on Monday, undeterred by rainy weather and undaunted by the slim legislative majorities that are keeping further infringements of their 2A rights at bay.


The annual Right to Keep and Bear Arms Rally wasn’t as widely attended as I’ve seen in years past, but those who showed up to be counted let it be known that they don’t believe criminalizing their right to self-defense is going to make the Keystone State a safer place.

The rally was held by Second Amendment Caucus, chaired by Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson County, and Rep. Abby Major, R-Armstrong County, which advocates for the rights afforded to citizens under Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which says the right to bear arms “shall not be questioned.”

“During the past several months, Governor Shapiro, the mayor of Philadelphia and many other gun-grabbing Democrats have been blaming violent inner city crime rates on the people’s legislature’s failure to act on so-called ‘common-sense’ gun laws,” Dush said at the rally. “I maintain that infringing on any constitutional right is not common-sense.”

His remarks were met with cheers from the crowd of Second Amendment activists and gun owners gathered. One activist, Constance Bires, was wearing a shirt that read “All gun control is racist.” When she turned, an addition was visible — “And sexist.”

“I just think there’s a lot of history surrounding that, and the reality is, Black people have been dealt a lot of bad press, bad action and bad laws,” Bires said. “I just think this is a really unfortunate thing, that people feel so much need to control other people and they have no business doing it.”


As David Burnett, executive director and counsel for the Senate State Government Committee (and alumnus of Students for Concealed Carry) pointed out to reporters, the Democrats in control of half the state legislature as well as the governor and AG’s offices have a bizarre approach to combatting crime in the state; criminalize the activities of legal gun owners while turning a blind eye to the actions of criminals.

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office told the Philadelphia Inquirer in January that they “do not believe that arresting people and convicting them for illegal gun possession is a viable strategy to reduce shootings.” That, Burnett said, is a problem.

“It’s hard for citizens of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania overall to be told that prosecuting the criminals won’t work but passing laws that will only affect law-abiding gun owners would,” Burnett said. “This is about practical, realistic concerns.”

Dush also was not impressed.

“Who in God’s name is protecting the people of Philadelphia, because it’s sure not their local government,” Dush said at the rally.

It’s jarring to hear Democrats claim that we can’t arrest our way out of our violent crime problem and in the same breath call for the creation of non-violent, possessory offenses like universal background checks or “gun-free zones”, but the fact that those positions are at odds with each other is little cause for concern on the left; or at least that’s traditionally been the case. The left has generally just ignored that inherent contradiction, but now that more public defenders and criminal justice reformers are starting to use the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen to defend their clients and challenge the status quo we’re starting to see some hand-wringing on the part of anti-gun progressives who don’t like to see Bruen (or our right to keep and bear arms) legitimized.


I don’t disagree with Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krasner when he says that a strategy of arresting and prosecuting as many people as possible for simple possession of a firearm isn’t the best way to fight crime, but unlike the far-left D.A. I also don’t believe that “red flag” laws, bans on “large capacity” magazines or so-called assault weapons, or any of the other non-violent possessory offense he’d like to carve out of our Second Amendment rights is the way to go either. There’s actually a lot of common ground to be found between the Second Amendment advocates rallying in Harrisburg and activists in cities like Philadelphia who are calling for community intervention instead of more laws (and law enforcement), but until the left is compelled to address the fundamental conflict between wanting more gun control laws and fewer people involved in the criminal justice system these commonalities are going to be rightfully overshadowed by their hostility towards our right to keep and bear arms in self-defense.



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