January 10, 2019
Last Monday, the steps of Pittsburgh's City-County building were flooded with hundreds of armed protestors in response to an anti-gun bill unveiled last month. As we covered in a previous article, the new legislation would unjustly prohibit several types of firearms and accessories from the city itself.
Below is a quick rundown from the previous article (which readers should really take a look at for a more complete understanding of the situation):
- An assault weapons ban making it unlawful to man manufacture, sell, purchase, transport, carry, store, or otherwise hold in one’s possession an assault weapon within the City, such as the Colt AR-15 automatic rifle used in the Tree of Life shooting
- An accessories, ammunition and modification ban barring items such as bump stocks, armor-penetrating bullets, sawed-off rifles and large capacity magazines often used in mass shootings
- Adoption of Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), which enable courts to temporarily prohibit a person from having guns if law enforcement or immediate family members show that the individual poses a significant danger
In a nutshell, the Mayor and his inner circle are attempting to pass a more extreme version of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. These reactionary measures were allegedly proposed in response to the Tree of Life synagogue shooting that occurred a few weeks before.
Labeled as “common-sense” gun reform, they met with near universal opposition from pro 2A groups both in PA, and all around the country.
This prompted several pro Second Amendment groups to organize a rally to protest the new proposed legislation. The media coverage of the event was surprisingly even-handed, despite “shock title” articles in the past on open carry like “Yes, It’s Legal For Protesters To Carry Rifles At Pittsburgh Rallies” - from PA NPR affiliate, WESA.
Thankfully, more even-handed pieces from local stations using AP coverage like this piece from Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 and this article from WPXI show that PA is still a gun-friendly state overall. One of these stations even covered the recent debate in PA over anti-concealed carry signs.
Surprisingly, neither of these attempted to overstate the opposition’s counter-protest. Based on available photos and videos, the miniature counter-protest consisted of a brass quintet and a single woman., totaling five people in all.
Yet, some publications couldn’t resist, and dramatically over-represented the small five-man counter protest. For example, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette penned an article titled, “Gun rights crowd to city officials: ‘Come on out!’ where the small counter protest represented 30% of the photos in the article’s slide show, despite representing less than 1% of the population in attendance.
Thought he protest wasn’t simply a large number of PA residents fed up with their government and a mayor that seeks to pass unconstitutional laws. In attendance were a few celebrities to the cause.
This includes event organizer Justin Dillon, who in 2013 took Pittsburgh’s ban on firearms in public parks to the PA Supreme Court, and successfully had it overturned. Though he wasn’t alone, Kaitlin Bennett, the young woman who made headlines with her open carry graduation photo at Kent State, spoke to the crowd as well.
The local police cordoned off a portion of Grant Street for the safety of the demonstrators, but no incidents occurred whatsoever. The entire protest was peaceful, and impactful. After all, it’s impossible to ignore 400 plus armed protestors chanting, “come on out!”.
Hopefully, this will result in the defeat of this bill, and give legislators pause before attempting to pass such legislation in the future. But just in case, the protestors won’t let those in power forget them. And are currently organizing another protest scheduled for the 24th, when the proposed bill will be discussed at a public hearing.