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By Sara Tipton

Breaking a Lower Merion Township rule Sunday afternoon, several peaceful gun rights activists carried firearms openly in protest of a local firearms prohibition. The township prohibits any person from carrying and firing a gun in public parks, except exempted parties or law enforcement officials. “Although the rule does not ban legal guns from parks, rally organizers say the ordinance is illegal under Pennsylvania law, which gives the state jurisdiction over firearms regulations.” Protesters say it violates Pennsylvania law which gives the right to restrict firearms usage to the state, not localities (auto-play video after the jump) . . .

Approximately 80 activists waved American flags, openly carried firearms, and listened to speeches on the cold Pennsylvania afternoon in Bala Cynwyd Park. The rally opened with the Pledge of Allegiance which was followed by a moment of silence to remember Officer Robert Wilson III, a Philadelphia cop killed in the line of duty March 5.

“We’re all here because we believe that real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong,” said speaker Steve Piotrowski of Citizens for Liberty.

One lawyer, Joshua Prince, told the crowd that Lower Merion would be sued, referring to Act 192, the law that states that anyone may sue a township over local firearms ordinances without having to show proof of an ordinance causing hardships or harm.

Two Lower Merion township commissioners who attended the rally and weren’t happy. They maintained that they are not concerned about any potential lawsuits, and that the protest doesn’t reflect the views of a majority of Lower Merion residents.

“For all intents and purposes, this is an armed occupation here today,” said Township Commissioner Brian McGuire, who supports the ordinance and who attended the rally to talk to constituents.

A number of Pennsylvania municipalities have repealed gun control laws after Act 192 passed last year strengthening state’s preemption law. The NRA sued the cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Lancaster in January for leaving their gun laws on the books.

Citing nearby crime, supporters said creating gun-free zones in places like public parks keeps people from being able to protect their children.

“If I was sitting on a bench in the park and somebody tried to grab my grandchildren . . . if I did not have a gun [the children] would be gone,” said Jane Taylor Toal of Citizens for Liberty.

But Commissioner Dan Burnheim wasn’t impressed.

“This is not an issue regarding the Second Amendment,” said Commissioner Dan Burnheim. “This is much more myopic. It is [about] having guns where our children are playing.”

The rally was peaceful and family-friendly. Organizers expected a larger turnout, however. Although the rally went unchallenged for the most part, reports surfaced of nails being found on the street near cars.

25 Responses to PA Township Commissioner: Open Carry Protest is an “Armed Occupation”

  1. So call out the local militia to displace this armed occupation!

    Oh wait…those are the folks in the parks already, aren’t they?

  2. I am shocked; SHOCKED!! that the organizers did not publicize this event adequately. I would have attended and OC’ed for the first time in PA.

    • This rally was very well and neutrally publicized by the PD for residents of Lower Merion, of which I am one. I did stop by to see the rally, at the behest of my afraid-of-legal-guns brother. We both thought the rally was pleasantly conducted. There are always a few, like Councilman McGuire, who feel compelled to earn cred with their little pocket of left-wing voters by making silly statements.

      In my neighborhood a few miles away home-owners fired shots last year to drive off a pair of men from Philadelphia attempting a hot burglary on a very high-end block. Two blocks away, the same day, neighbors with permits came out to help the PD corral another pair of robbers. We haven’t been bothered since. These were the first two burglaries in my neighborhood in 24 years. Guns do discourage burglars.

      Here’s the notice the PD sent out before the rally:

      “Good Morning this is Officer Colflesh with the Lower Merion Township Police Department with a special announcement. Lower Merion Township is informing neighbors of Bala Cynwyd Park, located at 398 Trevor Lane, that a public rally is being held in the park on Sunday, March 15th at one o’clock in the afternoon. The rally is organized by “Firearms Owners Against Crime” and their intent is to increase awareness of rights under the Constitution to bear arms. It is anticipated the many of attendees will choose to carry a firearm. The Police Department will monitor the rally. By law, citizens are permitted to carry a firearm in open view, or concealed, if they possess a permit. Citizens are also permitted to lawfully exercise their right to gather in a public park. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Township at 610-649-1000.”

      I’d call that a civilized notice. I can say that I have yet to meet an officer in the township who does not respect the carry, castle, and SYG laws that PA has passed. It will take time for various townships to unwind their diverse attempts to modify Pennsylvania gun law. In all things are good in the state. Philadelphia, of course, has its own problems the solution to which will take time.

  3. This may be the first time ever that an “armed occupation” has consisted of the populace of the supposedly occupied territory…

    Or, perhaps, Mr McGuire is high on hysteria and short on logic.

  4. Ooooo, the two Kommissars are sooo butthurt. Just hearing them squeal like piggies gives me a tingle all over.

  5. I think we are operating from a position of denial if we think any anit 2a person in authority will ever understand our mindset. Constitutions be damned, they will ignore, contort, and/or rewrite any law or report that does not parallel their agenda and goals. we must recognize the confiscators for what they are. People fanatically opposed to civilian gun ownership. Period. And BTW, the reason these people are so violent is because they know their position is irreconcilable with the facts leaving hostile emotional outbursts their stance of last resort.

    • Burnheim and McGuire aren’t crazed gun-grabbers. They are pols trying to hold onto their position representing the most left-liberal sections of the township. LM is a mix of wealthy business people and investors, professionals (lawyers and physicians), and a bunch of, well, professors, NGO employees, and civil servants.

      The trend, I am certain, is toward more common ownership of self-defense firearms, though many recent purchasers will deny ownership. Many CCW (LCF) permits have been issued. Even my liberal brother has been inquiring about what might be a “sensible little pistol,” and what training he would need for safety. Life goes on. LM is a very nice place to live, except when burglars in the city get up their nerve and come out here looking for gold.

    • “… the reason these people [state worshipers / gun grabbers] are so violent is because they know their position is irreconcilable with the facts leaving hostile emotional outbursts their stance of last resort.”

      That is one of the best statements I have ever read. Kudos to you Sammy.

  6. “For all intents and purposes, this is an armed occupation here today …”

    — Township Commissioner Brian McGuire

    Thus according to Mr. McGuire:

    good ==
    New York City police occupation who will kill responsible people who refuse to disarm in public

    bad ==
    responsible people who are armed in public and refuse to let violent criminals kill them

    Got it.

    And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the natural outcome when the state claims to be Almighty God and individuals are irrelevant.

  7. Lower Merion. Rich suburb just across thecity line from Philadelphia. Uppity liberals. Not a real representation of Pennsylvania.

  8. I don’t know which would be worse–if the Commissioner is really as hysterical as he sounds, or if he intentionally sounds so hysterical to appeal to his constituents.

  9. Lower Merion as I recall is one of the richest townships in the state (if not the richest), probably most of it’s residents are lawyers, it wouldnt surprise me. Has a fair amount of sway in the greater philadelphia metro region. They like their town how they like their town. It’s good to shake ’em up and rattle their ivory towers every now and then..

  10. What no rioting?.. no bottles thrown? cars burned,business windows smashed, looting?… what kind of a protest is this anyway?… at least they could have hung an effigy of Dan Burnheim… But no.. you all had to be civilized and polite…

  11. Anything gathering of citizens to support Constitutional Rights and has politicians crapping their panties is good for the country. We the people are in control, not appointed or elected dictators.

  12. I think PA should Annex Philadelphia, and its surrounding counties and give them to any neighboring state that will take them, they belong in New York or New Jersey, instead of continuing to pollute the rest of PA with their 100 percent voting democratic precincts, Rinos, and liberal enclaves like Lower Merion.

    Any loss of wealth would be offset by the costs of crime, welfare, and police protection for the crime ridden neighborhoods, that are the results of the great migration, and decades of generational crime and poverty, that were caused by the social programs started in the 60’s.

    Buh bye gun grabbers, and free sh*t army, enjoy living in another state….

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