June 6, 2020
On Monday June 6th 2020 I attended the “Right to Keep and Bear” rally held on the front steps of the capital in Harrisburg PA. This was a spur of the moment rally for our 2A rights put on in collaboration with us here at PA2A.ORG and former Rep Rick Saccone, along with GOA rep Val Finnel to replace the canceled PA rally/lobby day that is an annual event hosted by Rep Metcalfe.
First some back story. The annual rally/lobby day is kind of a fixture in supporting the Second Amendment here in Pennsylvania. It’s hosted by Rep Metcalfe (who is a strong 2A supporter) and is put on in conjunction with the FOAC (Firearm Owners Against Crime). I’ve been attending this rally for years and it has seen a lot of growth lately. Up to just 5 days before this years scheduled event it was a go for this year too, with hundreds of Second Amendment supporters slated to attend from all over the state. Then suddenly it was cancelled, well “rescheduled” was the official phrasing, without any new date being offered up. There was a claim from Rep Metcalfe’s office and the FOAC of some kind of credible threat on the rally day. I honestly don’t know what that threat was and it has never been made public except to say “they received an emailed threat.” I’m not sure what made this more credible than other threats in the past against our 2A rallies. Maybe the current protests involving the Floyd death in MN that have turned violent in some cases came into play. Maybe the ongoing pandemic came into play. In any event the something spooked the organizers and they called this years event off.
From The Ashes
With the “official” rally cancelled many of us started asking questions about this situation. Why did this happen so suddenly? What was the threat? Who was responsible? Most importantly: What could we still do?
With some digging into this it became apparent that this threat might have been more of a misunderstanding from a Facebook post and had snowballed from there. There surely were emails sent warning the organizers, but in reality this threat wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before when these events take place. So enter Dr. Rick Saccone ,the GOA and our fearless leader here at PA2A.ORG. After contacting the former State Rep and Dr. Val Finnel from the GOA, it was agreed that this should go forward as a grassroots rally for the Second Amendment. It’s amazing what highly motivated people with different skill sets can do on short notice and in the remaining 5 days we had a security plan, communications, and two speakers for our little rally, bringing together several different groups throughout the state to make this happen no matter what.
Que Rally Day
When Monday came I was off to Harrisburg, not knowing exactly what to expect. Sure, I knew the plan and some of the core group of people attending, but who knew how many people would even come or if there were going to be other spontaneous rallies going on in the area. What I saw on the ground couldn’t have worked out better though. I would estimate around 250 people came out to support not only our Second Amendment rights, but also our First Amendment right to speak and assemble. There was a general consensus in the crowd that it’s everyone’s right to assemble and be herd, no matter if there is an “official” event or not and if we let some veiled threat silence us now, that will just become the standard tactic for silencing any groups in the future. Both Dr. Finnel and Dr. Saccone made great short speeches and then gave the bullhorn over to others to speak as well. Justin Moon from Kahr arms attended and spoke as well as a few others and then after about an hour and a half everyone started to funnel back to their vehicles.
Everything went off just as peacefully and respectively as any other rally I’ve ever attended. I’m not sure why, but their was a very heavy police presence on this day as well, including drones and air planes. With everything going on now, I’m not 100% if that was for our protection or in case the rumors were true. Most police seemed fairly laid back towards though, and their presence wasn”t any kind of hindrance to the goings on at all.
Several local affiliate stations were present on the scene as well as the associated press. I was frankly disappointed, but not surprised by the media coverage of the event. Most waited until the end when the crowd had already dispersed to do their live coverage and the interviewees they picked were ones that looked most like your “stereotypical” gun owner, even though their were several diverse groups there in attendance. Pretty much standard practice for them and the CBS affiliate crew closest to me seemed almost disappointed that nothing besides speeches happened. They packed up shop early and were gone before the impromptu speeches even ended. Pretty much par for the course for the media, when people actually peacfeully assemble.
All in all I can say I was happy I attended and extremely proud to stand with my brothers and sisters in support of our First and Second Amendment rights on this Monday morning. Hopefully for us here at PA2A.ORG this will be the begining of many more events like this to come and I can’t wait to see how we all come together to support our 2A rights in the future.
R L Suehr
June 12, 2020