ShareThis Page
Armed protesters pillory Peduto during peaceful rally Downtown Pittsburgh | TribLIVE.com
Allegheny

Armed protesters pillory Peduto during peaceful rally Downtown Pittsburgh

Bob Bauder
| Monday, January 7, 2019 4:20 p.m
613332_web1_PTR-GunRally06-010819
Attendees participate in the open carry demonstration while listening to speakers at a rally held at the City-County Building, Downtown on Jan. 7, 2019.
613332_web1_PTR-GunRally04-010819
A man’s gun-shaped necklace is seen during an open carry demonstration while listening to speakers at a rally held at the City-County Building, Downtown on Jan. 7, 2019.
613332_web1_PTR-GunRally01-010819
Gun rights advocates assemble outside of City-County Building Downtown on Jan. 7, 2019.

Mayor Bill Peduto was among the most unpopular people in Pittsburgh on Monday as hundreds of gun rights protesters openly carrying rifles, shotguns and pistols hurled insults and criticism at him and a proposed gun ban during a rally in front of the City-County Building in the city’s Downtown.

They came from as far away as Chicago and accused Peduto and City Council of violating state law by proposing ordinances banning semi-automatic rifles and certain firearms accessories from the city limits.

They said the ordinances would do nothing to stop violent crime. They recited the Second Amendment and invoked Thomas Paine in declaring their right to bear arms. They dared Peduto to debate them face-to-face.

“He’s a traitor. He’s a coward. He’s a commie,” protesters yelled.

Speaker Kaitlyn Bennett, who gained fame when she posed for a graduation photo with an AR-10 rifle on Kent State’s campus, said the bills would make the city less safe.

“Rapists, murderers and thieves are all on the mayor’s side today,” she said. “They’re thankful. They’re saying, ‘Thank you, Mayor Peduto, for allowing me to go after my victims knowing they will be unarmed. Thank you.’”

The protest was otherwise peaceful. The city did not give an estimate on the size of the crowd though it appeared about 400 people participated.

The crowd included one counter protester silently holding a sign that read, “Keep your guns away from our kids.” Protesters jeered and shouted at her.

Bennett said the woman was looking for 15 minutes of fame.

“She just walked into a crowd of, what, 300 to 500 armed people?” she said.

Police made no arrests, and participants left without incident after a little more than an hour. Peduto was not in the building and unavailable for comment.

“The gun violence killing innocent people across the country, including 11 peacefully worshipping at Tree of Life in Squirrel Hill in October, has become a public health epidemic,” Peduto spokesman Tim McNulty said. “The few regulatory efforts proposed by Mayor Peduto and City Council are simply common sense measures meant to take the epidemic head-on.”

About 16 protestors later entered the City-County Building in an unsuccessful attempt to speak with Peduto and City Council members. Six of them were armed and checked their guns in a secure room before entering, according to building security.

“We simply wanted to come over and get any council member’s opinion or statement on do or do they not maybe support Mayor Peduto’s position, or anything that would help us understand where the council is coming from,” said Boyd Martin, who was among the group. “We got nothing.”

Council proposed the gun ban following the October murders of 11 people by a man armed with a semi-automatic rifle at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill.

Council members Corey O’Connor and Erika Strassburger, who represent portions of Squirrel Hill and proposed the ordinances, said they were determined to push the bills through to a vote.

“My council colleagues and the mayor and I are aware of the state laws that are on the books, and we happen to strongly disagree with them,” Strassburger said, referring to Pennsylvania’s preemption law prohibiting municipalities from regulating firearms. “If there’s not political will to make change, we’re ready and willing to make changes through the court system.”

O’Connor said he felt it was his duty to propose the ban. Bills like this, he said, could save lives by getting these weapons off the streets. He believed the bills would pass.

“I think, as an elected official, my job is to do everything I can to protect our residents,” he said.

State Rep. Aaron Bernstine, a Republican who represents northern Beaver County and parts of Butler and Lawrence counties, spoke during the protest and described gun ownership as a God-given right.

“Unfortunately the mayor and his cronies here in the city of Pittsburgh are attempting to infringe upon the rights of these law abiding citizens, and all it is is a political stunt,” he said. “If we’re really going to address the issues, we need to increase penalties for those who commit crimes with weapons.”


Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, bbauder@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobbauder. Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.


Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, bbauder@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.