Gun advocates showed up to a rally in Erie, Pa., with their firearms out in the open in defiance of a local ordinance that prohibits weapons in city parks.
"We are American patriots, and we are a force to be reckoned with," said Pastor George Cook, who traveled 350 miles from North Bangor to attend the rally.
About 80 people attended the “Open Carry Pennsylvania” protest in Perry Square. Police officers stood nearby and threatened to fine any protestor carrying a gun in the park. Guns were banned from city parks back in the 1970s.
"First, our constitution ... says that the right of people to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned," Cook said, according to WSEE-TV. "The preemption clause in our state law ... says that local towns like Erie can't make other laws concerning firearms."
Organizers of the protest attempted to get an injunction against the city ordinance but failed. Some rallygoers were issued citations.
"They've been going around writing down everyone's license plate number ... they said they're going to be querying the JNet [Justice Network] system to basically try and do facial recognition ... and then proceed from there in issuing citations," said attorney Joshua Prince.
Others did not carry firearms.
"I just have my AK-74 magazines and just a holster, I didn't carry because I'm a law-abiding citizen, I like to follow the rules like everybody else,” said open carry advocate Dylan Brown. "Cops can only be at one place at a certain time, you know... citizens should be able to arm themselves and protect themselves."
"I filed an emergency appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that has now issued an order to the city to file an answer by June 28, which is next Friday,” said Justin Dillon, the founder of Open Carry PA. "There's all types of towns and cities that have actually dismissed their ordinances just for a simple letter from an attorney or the DA saying 'hey we're not gonna enforce it.' Why can't I get that same support here?"