Some held “Don’t Tread on Me” signs, while others displayed guns on their hips or held rifles.
“I’m glad I’m at a rally where I could bring my own gun,” said Ted Weaver, one of six speakers at the rally. “More and more, the Second Amendment is being stomped on.”
Weaver, who was raised in Maryland and is chief executive officer and founder of Responsibly Armed, said he is disappointed by the strict changes in the gun laws in Maryland in the aftermath of December’s massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Organized by Franklin County 9/12 Patriots, Saturday’s rally began at noon with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Among the other speakers at the rally were Vietnam War veteran Jim Taylor, Iraq War veteran J.C. Dodge, state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, Dan Bongino and Larry Pratt.
Michele Jansen, coordinator of Franklin County 9/12 Patriots, said stricter gun laws are being proposed in the wake of the tragedy in Connecticut, and that directly attacks the Second Amendment.
“We have concerns,” Jansen said.
Bongino, a 2012 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, told the crowd that stricter gun control isn’t the answer.
“Do you feel any safer if you are a Maryland resident or if you live on the border today now that our governor, the benevolent Martin O’Malley, passed this gun-control law?” Bongino asked.
“No!” was shouted from the crowd.
“It was never about guns, ever,” Bongino said. “This was about attacking an idea. The idea about living in freedom, folks.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the fight of your lifetime right now. I am sorry that this fight at this time has been hoisted on your backs.
“If you are here and are not registered to vote, then you are not part of the problem — you are the problem. We’re losing our country. Action matters.”
Throughout the two-hour rally, Joel Sollenberger of Marion, Pa., leaned his custom-built hunting rifle against his left shoulder.
Sollenberger said his rights are in jeopardy.
“As we look at the massive amount of legislation being proposed both in Washington and elsewhere throughout the country, there are those who would prefer that I not be able to do what I’m doing right here today,” said Sollenberger, referring to carrying his hunting rifle and his sidearm.
“I think it’s really important to have rallies like this to increase the public awareness of what’s going on as far as attempts to limit, to take away our rights,” said Greg Rotz of Mercersburg, Pa., who brought his Remington Model 870 shotgun to the rally.
People need to stop demonizing gun owners, said John Benson of Hanover, Pa.
“The cartoons show people (with guns) as Elmer Fudd or psychopathic people toting guns when we’re just normal, everyday people who want the right to own a firearm to defend their houses and their families,” Benson said.