"Several dozen gun-rights supporters peacefully descended on a Lower Merion park Sunday afternoon, where they protested a local gun ordinance and called on the district attorney to take legal action against the township.
The township's rule does not ban legal guns from parks, but rally organizers say the ordinance is illegal under Pennsylvania state law. A crowd of about 80 people carried signs, American flags and firearms as they listened to speeches in Bala Cynwyd Park on the cold afternoon. "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.Joshua Prince, a lawyer, told the crowd that Lower Merion would be sued and asked District Attorney Risa Ferman to bring legal action against all involved.
Two Lower Merion commissioners who attended said the township is not concerned about a lawsuit. The protest did not represent the view of most residents, they said.
"For all intents and purposes, this is an armed occupation here today," said Township Commissioner Brian McGuire, who supports the ordinance and attended the rally to talk to constituents.
The rally kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence for Philadelphia police officer Robert Wilson III, who was killed in the line of duty March 5 when robbers invaded a video game store. The gun event, billed as being family friendly, intended to draw gun-rights supporters from across the state. Organizers said Thursday they were expecting between 280 and 480 to turn out, but the crowd Sunday was substantially smaller.
Gun-rights advocates say the Lower Merion ordinance is illegal under a Pennsylvania law that gives the state jurisdiction over firearms regulation. But gun-control supporters argue that Lower Merion's rule does not fall into any of the categories regulated by that state law. Many localities have repealed their gun regulations after a bill passed last year strengthened state preemption of municipal gun ordinances.
The law, known as Act 192, broadly defines people who can sue localities over their firearms rules to include most state residents and organizations - who do not have to prove they have been personally harmed by the ordinance in question.
Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster all left some ordinances on the books and were sued by the National Rifle Association in January.
With a group of state legislators, the cities have brought a separate case against the commonwealth, alleging that procedural maneuvers used to pass the bill were unconstitutional.
Gun-control advocates think the effort in Lower Merion is part of an attempt by gun-rights supporters to get townships to rescind their ordinances before the court rules on the law, said Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePA.
"We believe that the law will be thrown out, so we don't feel threatened by a lawsuit," McGuire said. As the national battle over guns has shifted largely to the states, questions like these have become key parts of the debate.
Almost every state has some form of preemption, according to a 2014 analysis by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program. But Pennsylvania's law has drawn national attention from gun-rights and gun-control groups alike.
The NRA called it the strongest statute in the country. On Sunday, the gun-rights demonstrators' presence went unchallenged, though one person shouted "unpatriotic" from the other side of the park, and organizers said they found nails in the street near parked cars. " [Source]
"Guns don't kill people." But neither do laws against controlling guns.
*Pic from Philly.com