The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

March 24, 2013

Rally gathers gun advocates

SHARON —

Greenville resident Warren Shaw just wants to protect himself.

In Pennsylvania, he’s permitted to conceal and carry his derringer-style pocket pistol that shoots .410 shotgun shells.

When he travels, he’d like not to have to wonder if a particular state honors Pennsylvania gun permits, he said.

“You need to be able to protect yourself,” Shaw said, and at 71-years-old he’s not fit enough to physically fend off potential attackers, so he carries the gun.

About 140 people like Shaw came out to a gun-rights rally held Saturday at the Sharon City Building.

People walked along a sidewalk lined with signs drawn with pithy slogans: “GOD, GUNS, GUTS, Made America Free,” “Target Crime Not Guns,” and “Guns = A Free Press,” among them.

The event was organized by an group of Mercer County gun enthusiasts led by Mike Beveridge.

People are concerned about the potential of stricter gun laws being enacted in the wake of the most recent spate of gun-fueled bloodbaths, including the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings, Mercer County Sheriff Gary Hartman said.

He lamented the exploitation of that shooting for political purposes.

“It bothers me deep inside to use that tragedy to advance a political agenda,” Hartman said.

Stricter gun-control laws won’t decrease violent crimes, he said.

“A firearm is an inanimate object. How can we blame that (violence) on a gun?”

It’s time for common sense to prevail he said, adding that the gun laws the commonwealth has in place are working just fine.

“We have a system in place that works,” he said.

The present political climate is also the perfect sales pitch for gun sellers and people like Hartman, who as sheriff is the official who issues concealed carry permits.

“Obama” is the best gun salesman, Hartman said.

Prior to Obama’s election, about 50 permits were issued each month in Mercer County.

Now it’s “well-over 2,000,” per month being sought, Hartman said.

The event was headlined by state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-12th District, Cranberry Township, Butler County.

A representative for 3rd District U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly also spoke briefly.

Known for his conservative views, Metcalfe was the sponsor of the voter ID law that was passed last year that liberal groups decried as an attempt to suppress the vote.

He was a supporter of Act 10 of 2011, the state’s Castle Doctrine that allows residents to defend themselves in their homes.

“If someone is coming in your door in the middle of the night, they’re not coming over to bake cookies,” he quipped.

He spoke against what he called a “government gone astray,” under the Obama Administration and said if Second Amendment rights are lost, “we’ll lose (the rest of) our freedoms.”

Matcalfe’s also in favor of cracking down on illegal immigration and making English the official language of the Keystone State.

Metcalfe’s latest legislative lobby is House Bill 357, a proposed law that he says will trump any federal attempt at gun control.

Known as the “Right to Bear Arms Protection Act,” the law, would flout any national gun laws and require the state to defend residents of the Keystone state facing federal charges because Federal gun law violations.

State Rep. Michael Brooks, R-17th District, Jamestown, is a co-sponsor of the bill, which is in the judiciary committee.

The ultimate enforceability of the proposed law is subject to debate. Some believe federal laws supersede state laws on specific matters, while Metcalfe maintains the Constitution ultimately places power with the states and the people.

Metcalfe warned of the “increasing erosion of our freedoms.”

“The best deterrent to crime is an armed, law-abiding citizenry,” Metcalfe said.

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