Reader Mike C. writes:
A Second Amendment rally is planned for 9:00 AM this Saturday August 27 in Butler Pennsylvania, a blue-collar county seat 30 miles north of Pittsburgh. While Second Amendment rallies are common, this one is unique; the mayor of Butler, Tom Donaldson, has proclaimed the day of the rally to be an official Open Carry Day in the city.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mayor Donaldson last night, interviewing him over a beer at one of his usual haunts, the Butler American Legion.
The mayor won election in 2013, running on a law-and-order, pro-2nd Amendment platform. His lopsided 66-to-34% victory unseated Margaret Stock, one of Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He says his police force will have no issues with crowds of rally-goers openly carrying their weapons. “My police are very firm, but they’re also very knowledgeable, and they respect people’s rights, especially the Second Amendment right”, he said.
Support for Second Amendment rights extends throughout Butler County. Local legislators, both state and federal, are strong supporters of the right to keep and bear arms. Assistant District Attorney Ben Simon will speak at the rally, along with County Sheriff Mike Slupe. At last year’s rally, Sheriff Slupe promised to do everything in his power to stop the federal government from coming and enforcing unconstitutional gun laws in Butler. “He’ll be the other guy at the bridge with me. We’ll probably both be taken out by the same tank, “ the mayor laughed.
“I believe in an armed citizenry, because you’re your first immediate protection. When that police officer is on the other side of town handling a domestic, and you’re getting robbed at gunpoint or knifepoint it might take him 15 or 20 minutes to clear that domestic up, and you’re out here all by yourself, so you need to be prepared to defend and protect yourself, to the fullest extent that the law allows, and to do so wisely.”
The mayor said he learned that from personal experience. As a police officer on patrol one night, he was badly beaten by three assailants. He gives an account of being on his back, his head being viciously battered, when he drew his revolver. One attacker stepped on his arm. Being unable to aim, all he could do was to fire the rounds, emptying his gun so his attackers couldn’t use it against him. They ran off, and he waited 15 long minutes for help to arrive from neighboring departments. He now carries his 1911 pistol everywhere he goes.
He is a staunch Second Amendment advocate. “When we talk about it, when we exercise our rights, we must be nuts, we must be radicals, we must be dangerous. We’re not. We’re law-abiding citizens.” He recounted a question about his open carry proclamation from a local newspaper reporter: “’Why would you do that? Open carry is legal’, the reporter asked. ‘Why’d I do it? You just proved why I did it.’ I said ‘You called me, didn’t you?’ He said, ‘Yeah’. I said ‘That’s why.’ I wanted to draw attention to this [rally]. I want to do anything I can to support the cause.”
The rally was started last year by Rich Wilson, a retired police officer and regional coordinator for Firearms Owners Against Crime (FOAC), Pennsylvania’s leading Second Amendment advocacy group. With little planning or promotion, the small crowd at last year’s rally did not do justice to the quality of the speakers. This year, an ad hoc committee (which includes this author) has been planning the rally for weeks. Attendance at this year’s rally is expected to be much larger than last year’s, and the hope is to grow larger year after year.