Harrisburg, PA – It was a chilly morning in Harrisburg, but tempers were raging hot on the statehouse steps as some 400 pro-gun activists rallied in support of what they claim is the federal government’s infringement of their Second Amendment Rights.
The protest was one of dozens of similar rallies held around the nation in recent weeks, organized in part by the insurgent Tea Party movement that is determined to upend President Barack Obama’s presidency. But the protest seemed less about protecting guns than about halting the spread of “tyranny.”
“He’s a treasonous communist,” said Lance Pledger, 58, of Obama. “He took an oath to defend this country. Him, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi could be brought up on so many charges it’s not even funny. We’re not going to give them this country.”
When asked what laws specifically America’s Democratic leadership have broken, Pledger replied, “Look around you.”
So I did, and what I saw were a bunch of angry white people worried that Obama was going to take away their guns, install a socialist regime and give amnesty to illegal aliens. It was like watching Fox News performance art.
“Except for the Border Patrol and FBI, we need to abolish every government agency,” Pledger continued. “And every illegal alien needs to be packed up and shipped home. We don’t want them here.”
State Rep. Daryl Metcalf (R-Butler County) kicked off the event with a rousing speech. “The Second Amendment is not just a Constitutional right, it’s a God given right,” he said, to thunderous applause. “Guns are the greatest deterrent to tyrants who get elected and trample on our Constitution.”
Sid Phillips, 55, attended with his wife, Katya, 30, who was born in Ukraine.
“She comes from a socialist country where people can’t have guns,” said Phillips. “She sees how this country is moving toward socialism.”
When asked for specifics, Katya replied, “Government too much involved in peoples’ lives. It scares me.”
Some 30 speakers were scheduled to speak during the two-hour rally on the capitol steps, including Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners for America, a firearms lobbying firm.
“What’s been happening is some rising of the people with pitchforks standing outside the castle,” he told the crowd, which erupted in cheers and applause.
I was approached during Pratt’s speech by a couple of older volunteers in NRA jackets. Pointing to my notebook, they asked if I was a reporter. I said that I was, but that I wasn’t affiliated with any organization. “You don’t support the tyrants in office do you?”
“As long as I can keep my arsenal of machine guns, I don’t care who is in office,” I replied. The older of the two smiled, patted me on the shoulder and handed me a copy of They Came for Our Guns, They Came For Our Freedom, by William Lafferty.
“I think you’ll enjoy this,” he said.