CLEARFIELD – A parking lot of Second Amendment supporters rallied behind their state and federal leaders who pledged to continue protecting their constitutional right to keep and bear arms Sunday outside the Grice Gun Shop in Clearfield.
U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-5, was joined by State Reps. Tommy Sankey and Matt Gabler, who serve the 74th and 75th Districts, respectively. Tom Grice, owner of Grice Gun Shop sponsored the rally, which he opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and a word of prayer.
“You’re here because you care and you’re deeply concerned about your rights, your country and your freedom,” said Grice. “As gun owners, you should be scared. You’re being attacked from all sides. You need to get committed and informed of who supports your Second Amendment rights and who will stand and fight.”
Thompson said he will continue to be a “staunch defender” of the Second Amendment as “a proud gun owner.” When he goes to Washington, D.C., he carries two cards with him at all times. He carries his voting card for the U.S. House of Representatives, which defends the freedoms and liberties of his constituents. Thompson also carries his concealed carry permit to protect his family, home and himself.
“Now that is a right we exercise in this nation that our founders gave us. Our founders gave us this opportunity . . . that’s now under attack,” said Thompson, who received the crowd’s approval for proudly putting on a T-shirt to support the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Thompson criticized the U.S. Senate for its attempts at crafting federal legislation that infringed upon Second Amendment rights within days of a tragic incident and the result of someone who was criminally insane. He accused his senatorial opponents of pulling its anti-gun laws from some file labeled “how to take away Second Amendment rights.”
Thompson pointed out one sign among crowd members that read, “I’m proud to be a gun-toting, Bible-thumping hillbilly from central Pennsylvania.” He said it described his family, and he was also proud to cling to both his gun and to his Bible.
During the gun debate in Washington, Thompson said he’s been approached by individuals who contend certain calibers of long rifles or sizes of magazines aren’t necessary for hunting. He said, “I just give them a real stupid look. The Second Amendment doesn’t have anything to do with hunting. It was established to ensure the safety of the nation and the rights of the states.”
According to Thompson, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced the worst-ever attack on the Second Amendment. A couple decades ago, he said Feinstein conducted an audio interview, which he has listened to. She was from the San Francisco area and the focus of an attack by a domestic terrorist group. In response, Feinstein obtained a concealed carry permit to protect herself and her family.
“And, it’s a shame, but there’s a lot of that in Washington,” said Thompson. “What’s good enough for them isn’t good enough for the citizens of this great nation.”
He said the bill that came out of a senatorial sub-committee was one of the “most restrictive and abrasive” attacks on the Second Amendment that could be imagined. He said it went after certain calibers of long rifles when the most recent data available from 2011 shows that top assault weapons used in acts of violence were rocks, hammers or baseball bats. He said long rifles were about three categories down and “significantly less” than the top one.
Thompson said members of “the other side” often ask about the purpose of a 10-bullet magazine clip. His usual response: “If someone is coming into my house in the middle of the night to hurt my family, I want as many bullets as I can possibly get to defend myself. That was the intent of the Second Amendment . . . to defend yourself, your home, your property and this great nation.”
Thompson also criticized the idea of universal background checks, as he doesn’t trust the Obama administration with anything that could lead to a registry for guns. He said the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had recently announced that it’s also opposed to universal background checks because of its infringement upon the privacy of gun owners in the United States.
From what he’s been hearing out of the U.S. Senate, Thompson said the support of proposed gun trafficking provisions is melting down due largely to the overzealous way it was written. He said they agreed known felons shouldn’t be able to purchase a gun; however, there aren’t any real consequences for those who knowingly sell to someone like that.
He said gun trafficking provisions had been written so that if a law-abiding citizen purchased a gun and then sold it to someone who could legally purchase one and they turned around and sold it to someone who could not due to past violations of the law, all three could be arrested. Not only that, he said the illegally sold gun would be confiscated, as well as all firearms owned by those involved in situations such as the one given by him.
“We need to continue to be vigilant. We need to continue to stand firm. We need to continue to stand strong and tall for the Second Amendment,” said Thompson. “Not having a gun when you need one is a lot like not having a parachute when you need one. You will never need one a second time.”
Sankey said so far as the gun debate, “it is what it is,” and he saw it as an attack on personal freedom. He said U.S. President Barack Obama refers to rural Pennsylvanians as “those people, who cling to their guns and Bibles,” which he willingly accepts as a compliment.
“If we allow them to take our freedom of any part of the U.S. Constitution, then what’s next? If we let them have our guns, it’s going to be free speech. It’s going to be search and seizure. It is more important now than ever to exercise your rights, and there needs to be strength in numbers,” said Sankey.
According to him, in Pennsylvania, the anti-gun supporters are coming from the urban areas and claiming they have a “gun problem.” Meanwhile he said they are failing to acknowledge gang and drug problems, and he’s willing to help them “clean up” their streets. He said he will never allow anti-gun supporters to punish the law-abiding citizens of central Pennsylvania.
“These rights were given to us by our forefathers and in my opinion by God and not by man,” said Sankey. “We have the right to protect ourselves, and we can never give the gun grabbers an inch. If you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. This isn’t even about guns; this is about freedom. If we give them anything, they are going to take and take and take.”
Gabler said they were rallying together to “stand and fight.” He pointed out a T-shirt worn by a crowd member that said: “Our forefathers would be shooting by now.” He said it illustrated that the nation was built, because it had a well-armed citizenry of law-abiding citizens who were willing to stand up and to defend freedom. Gabler said if the Second Amendment comes under attack and the “gun grabbers” are successful, the spirit of the nation’s forefathers goes away.
“We cannot let that happen,” he said. Gabler said Pennsylvanians have to preach Article I Section XXI of the state’s constitution, which fits hand-in-hand with the Second Amendment. He said it gives citizens the right to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned. “When it comes time to ask, ‘why do you need, 10, 20, 30-round magazines, why do you need an AR-15, why do you need something that can re-load quick, it doesn’t matter. We don’t ask that question in Pennsylvania.”
Most importantly, Gabler noted that the gun debate rests upon one word: “tragedies.” He said there isn’t a heart that doesn’t ache for the victims in Newtown, Conn., and there isn’t a person who doesn’t have their hair stand up at the horror that occurred in Aurora, Colo. Gabler said no one would wish such tragedies on any community; however, everyone knows in their “heart of hearts” that infringing upon the rights of law-abiding citizens is inviting another tragedy.
In Pennsylvania, Gabler said the state government is not coming after them like those in New York, Connecticut and some other places. He said they still cannot “rest on their laurels” at the state level because of people at the federal level, such as Feinstein, who are trying to push “gun-grabbing legislation.”
Gabler said they “must push back against an over-reaching federal government,” which has resulted in him re-introducing House Bill 475, the Firearms Freedom Act. He said his bill clarifies the relationship between state and federal laws on firearms and establishes that firearms and firearm accessories that are manufactured and exclusively sold in Pennsylvania would be subject only to state law.
Gabler said a similar act has been passed in Wyoming and has since been bolstered. There, he said state leaders have added language, stating that anyone who attempts to enforce any new, unconstitutional legislation passing at the federal level after Jan. 1, 2013 within the borders of Wyoming will be committing a felony offense. He said in Pennsylvania, State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has introduced HB 357, the Right to Bear Arms Protection Act, which prohibits the enforcement of any new federal restriction, prohibition or registration requirement for firearms, magazines and ammunition.
“We have to push the federal government back . . . and out of our gun cabinets,” said Gabler.
After giving remarks, Thompson, Sankey and Gabler fielded questions from crowd members for approximately 40 minutes.
When asked about why so many gun laws already exist but are not enforced, Thompson said there are currently more than 11,000 gun laws across the local, state and federal levels. He said unfortunately these laws are left to “the powers to be” who should be held accountable. Further, Thompson accused the Obama administration of “picking and choosing” which laws it wants to enforce and which ones to turn a “blind eye” to.
Gabler added that it’s partly due to politicians who are passing laws that are not enforceable, because they think government can prevent everything. He said politicians are asking citizens to sacrifice their liberties for a false sense of protection. Gabler said there are volumes upon volumes of regulations that don’t make citizens any safer and only give “some politician some feather in their cap.”
When the issue of the exchange of mental health information arose, Thompson said they need to make sure existing laws are fully-exercised, and it was a part of the complexities of dealing with the current culture of violence, especially on the behavioral side. He said the perpetrators of the recent heinous acts were relatively young men with a long history of mental health issues.
He said the federal government has passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that gives the right of medical information privacy to individuals. He said he couldn’t think of something more tragic than being a parent and having a child develop a mental health issue at some point in their life.
Thompson said if this occurs during the teen years with “significantly disturbing behaviors,” it needs to be well-managed and family members need to make sure the child gets access to care. He said for him it’s tragic that by the age 18, a child no longer has that safety net, because their parents aren’t any longer entitled to that information.
In Pennsylvania, Gabler said they’ve agreed to share mental health information with the National Instant Check System. He said this is a critical development in preventing people, especially in border counties, who have lost their right to possess a gun from crossing into Maryland or Ohio and obtaining guns. Gabler said, “What’s the purpose of having all the data in Pennsylvania, if there’s no record of it elsewhere.”
When asked for an opinion on “gun free zones” Thompson said he “cringes” at the mere sight of signs for them, which he re-interprets as a “killing zone.” He said “gun free zone” signs are placed out of political correctness to make people feel good. Thompson said, “But it scares me. What is says is that there’s no one in this building or on this property who is going to be able to defend themselves. Gun free zones should be banned and replaced with signs that say, ‘Within these walls are our children and we love them, and we will defend them with our lives.’”
Gabler said “gun-grabbing” legislation creates victims, and “gun free zones” create sitting ducks.” He said they need to stop politicians at all levels from creating victims.
“If someone comes in to rob Sheetz and we’re all standing there with our pistols, are they going to rob Sheetz? No. They only come into places, i.e. schools, where they know that nobody has a gun,” said Sankey. “Guns save more lives. There hasn’t been a time in my life more important than right now that I feel people should be armed.”
Representatives were available at the rally to assist crowd members in registering to vote and in becoming members of the NRA.