Dueling rallies from groups on either side of the guns debate filled the halls of the Pennsylvania’s Capitol building Wednesday.
First to convene was the gun rights group Pennsylvania Responsible Citizens — with about 150 people standing on the Capitol steps.
Why have the rally in the 15-degree weather outside?
“Because most of the people are here to exercise their Second Amendment rights, and that is to keep and bear arms, and no firearms are permitted inside the Capitol,” explains Bob Sklar, a firearms instructor. “So it would be inappropriate to have that inside, I would imagine.”
Inside the Capitol, about 200 people gathered to show support for gun-control measures.
Mary Beth Hacke of Allegheny County and member of CeaseFire PA says her 14-month-old son was killed by stray gunfire while sitting in a car seat.
“And, today, I’m here to tell you and to tell our governor and to tell state officials, I’m tired of watching children die,” she said.
Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Rich Negrin says he was a teenager when his father was killed as he walked down the street by a machine pistol called the MAC-10.
“This gun was subject to the assault weapons ban. It was,” Negrin said. “Today, you can find this gun on the Internet.”
State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, struck a chord with those demonstrating outside when he said protecting the Second Amendment right to bear arms will require “eternal vigilance.”
“We cannot rest because the liberals that want to take away your freedom will not rest,” he said.
Meanwhile, a state Senate resolution to create a joint task force to study violence prevention was approved in committee and sent to the full Senate for consideration.