Gun owners rally on Capitol steps in Harrisburg

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 11:58 a.m.

HARRISBURG — A Cranberry lawmaker wants to prevent the enforcement of federal gun control measures in Pennsylvania.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe's proposed bill would make it a felony for anyone, including federal agents, to attempt to enforce gun restrictions or ban the purchase of firearms in this state. It is similar to legislation pending in Texas and Wyoming.

Metcalfe, a Republican, spoke about the bill Wednesday at a gun owners' rally that drew about 150 people to the state Capitol steps in freezing rain. They gathered to “show those liberal gun grabbers your rights are important,” Metcalfe said.

It's likely the bill is more a statement against federal infringement than viable legislation on the track to approval in the General Assembly.

“Passage of my legislation will send the message that there will never be additional gun control, anywhere in Pennsylvania,” Metcalfe said. “Whether by White House executive orders, congressional fiat or judicial activism, we will never allow the left to benefit from the wicked acts of murderers in order to advance their senseless gun-grabbing agenda.”

Several hundred gun control advocates attended an afternoon rally, where several victims and survivors of shootings told their stories amid calls for “common sense” gun control legislation.

“I'm here to tell our governor and state officials I'm tired of watching children die,” said Mary Beth Hacke of West Mifflin, whose 14-month-old son, Ryan, died in a random shooting at a Homestead gas station 16 years ago. Hacke is a board member of CeaseFire, which organized the gun control rally.

Metcalfe stirred the crowd at his rally by asking who has questioned Second Amendment rights and then ticking off several names: President Obama, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane and CNN's Piers Morgan.

“A Brit on our soil questioning the Constitution,” Metcalfe said about Morgan.

Prompted by Obama, Congress could consider federal legislation to restrict the sale of military-style weapons in response to the December shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in which 20 first-graders and six adults died. The shooter, Adam Lanza, also killed his mother and himself, police said.

Obama has said he might act on some anti-gun measures through executive order.

Every member of the Pennsylvania legislature is sorrowful about Newtown, said Rep. Jeffrey Pyle, R-Ford City, but it is “a liberal myth that guns kill people,” Pyle said. If Obama sidesteps Congress to implement anti-gun measures by executive order, “to me is tantamount to being treasonous,” Pyle said.

Don John, 69, a former union welder from Middletown, said he twice voted for Obama because he thought the president would help create jobs and protect unions. Now John worries about an erosion of gun owner's rights.

“I really don't think (gun control laws) will stop crazy people from doing crazy things,” John said.

At the CeaseFire rally, Hacke said her “a criminal firing an illegal handgun” killed her son.

“My heart is broken, and I am forced to live with this pain every day,” she said.

Richard Negrin, deputy mayor of Philadelphia, recounted how a .45 caliber bullet from a Mac-10 pistol killed his father when Negrin was 13.

“There is no legitimate use for this gun,” he said.

Retired psychiatric nurse Sheila Kier of O'Hara said she doesn't oppose the idea of having a gun for home safety or hunting but thinks military-style rifles and other semiautomatic weapons should be for the military and not the public.

“You don't need a semiautomatic to kill a deer,” Kier said.

Brad Bumsted is state Capitol writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 or

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