Locals Attend Pittsburgh Open Carry Rally; Hundreds of Gun Rights Activists Show Support

| January 8, 2019

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (EYT) – An “Open Carry Rally” held in downtown Pittsburgh on Monday drew hundreds of gun rights activists from all across western Pennsylvania.

(Photos by Matt Yingling)

According to a published article in CBS Pittsburgh News, an estimated 600 people, many of them openly carrying firearms ranging from pistols to rifles, gathered at the City-County Building just before noon in response to Mayor Bill Peduto’s proposed firearms ordinances, which include a ban of semi-automatic weapons inside the city.

Venango County resident Matt Yingling also attended the rally after hearing about it through the Open Carry Pennsylvania Facebook page.

“I attended because I work and travel to and through Pittsburgh almost daily, and the proposed laws would affect my rights and possibly get me in trouble legally,” Yingling explained.

“I didn’t personally know anyone there, but everyone was very helpful to others and everyone was there for one reason, and that’s to fight unconstitutional laws that would have made everyone there a criminal.”

Yingling also noted the one thing he’d like people to understand is that “the proposed unconstitutional laws only affect law-abiding people.”

Local residents Corey Botelho and Jake Stroup were among the crowd of activists in Pittsburgh.

Botelho, who runs Tri-Force Tactical, a local tactical training group out of New Bethlehem, and Stroup, who works at a local firearms business, traveled to Pittsburgh on Monday to stand with fellow gun rights activists against the proposed ordinances.

According to Botelho, after he created the Facebook post: “Let Tom Wolfe know we the people are not having it,” with an image of a black keystone with the words “Stand Against PA Gun Control,” it went viral, with over 24,000 shares, and a number of people beginning to use the image as their profile picture.

Open Carry Rally Pittsburgh 2

Then, he received a notice about the about the Open Carry Rally being planned in Pittsburgh.

“Normally I will not involve Tri-Force Tactical in any protests nor rallies, but this time was different, this time it was in our backyard,” Botelho said. “It wasn’t just a stand for guns, but for freedom.”

Botelho noted that the rally made him proud of all of those who came together for a cause they believe in.

“The crowd of a thousand, at the doorstep of the mayor’s office, was a peaceful rally, but a strong message of ‘we will not comply.’ This is not an act of right-wing racist or radicals. This is that of true Constitutional American Patriots.”

Stroup, who traveled with Botelho, echoed Botelho’s sentiments.

“It was all very positive. The police who were there were very supportive of us, and a few even thanked us for showing up,” Stroup said.

“We did have some counter-protesters there, and we got in a debate with one lady, but it all stayed very professional, there was no swearing or name-calling.”

Stroup also heard about the event through social media and chose to attend to support not only gun rights but also larger issues he sees at play, as well.

“The main reason I went is because I care about people’s gun rights statewide. It’s not fair that we would be denied the right to protect ourselves. But also, we don’t want to see a precedent set where cities can pass ordinances that conflict with state laws.”

The mayor’s proposal has drawn the ire of many gun rights activists who say that the ordinances would violate a state law that prohibits municipalities from regulating firearms.

According to Joshua Prince, of Prince Law Office in Pittsburgh, the Open Carry Rally was organized by several gun rights groups, including a group called Open Carry Pennsylvania.

Prince is the Chief Counsel for the Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG), a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C.

“There wasn’t really one person or group in charge, it was an effort between three or four main individuals from different groups,” stated Prince.

While not directly involved with the rally, Prince is representing the Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League (ACSL) and Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC) regarding the three firearm ordinance proposals announced last month, as well as new signage erected outside of the City-County Building, all of which he contends are all illegal under Pennsylvania state law.

“By state law, only the General Assembly can regulate firearms,” Prince stated. “These proposed ordinances, and the new signs placed in front of the City-County Building, are unlawful.”

Prince addressed a letter to City Council regarding the proposed ordinances on December 17, and a Letter to City Council regarding the new signage on January 3.

While gun rights advocates stand staunchly against the proposed ordinances, Governor Wolf is standing with Mayor Bill Peduto in favor of the ordinances.

“If we continue to allow so many citizens to live in fear of mass shootings, when we can, right now, reduce that risk, we are robbing citizens of their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” stated Governor Wolf during a news conference at Pittsburgh’s City Hall on December 14.

“We need to make more progress at the state and federal level and I will do all that I can do make that happen,” Governor Wolf added.


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