Mayor Bill Peduto has been under the spotlight of late due to an unpopular proposal to ban semi-automatic rifles and various other firearms from the city limits. Peduto spokesman Tim McNulty said that “The gun violence killing innocent people across the country, including 11 peacefully worshipping at Tree of Life in Squirrel Hill in October, has become a public health epidemic,” and that
“The few regulatory efforts proposed by Mayor Peduto and City Council are simply common-sense measures meant to take the epidemic head-on.”
Peduto and the City Council’s own common-sense has been put to the question, as this will obviously criminalize all law-abiding gun owners in the city.
Gun rights protesters armed with rifles, shotguns, and pistols marched to the City-County Building, requesting for an audience with the mayor. Some protesters came all the way from Chicago and accused the Peduto of consciously violating state law by pushing this new ordinance.
The Council proposed the gun ban after the October murders of 11 people by a man armed with a semi-automatic rifle at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill.
Council members Corey O’Connor and Erika Strassburger, who represent portions of Squirrel Hill and proposed the ordinances, said they were determined to push the bills through to a vote.
“My council colleagues and the mayor and I are aware of the state laws that are on the books, and we happen to strongly disagree with them,”
Strassburger said, referring to Pennsylvania’s preemption law prohibiting municipalities from regulating firearms. “If there’s no political will to make a change, we’re ready and willing to make changes through the court system.”
Amidst varying levels of insults and criticism, the protesters pointed out the foolishness of this new move. The new ordinances would do nothing to stop gun-related crime because criminals would not care if there is a city-wide gun ban. Hence, the only people affected and criminalized are legal gun owners.
State Rep. Aaron Bernstine, a Republican who represents northern Beaver County and parts of Butler and Lawrence counties, spoke during the protest and described gun ownership as a God-given right.
“Unfortunately the mayor and his cronies here in the city of Pittsburgh are attempting to infringe upon the rights of these law-abiding citizens, and all it is is a political stunt. If we’re really going to address the issues, we need to increase penalties for those who commit crimes with weapons.”
The protesters recited the Second Amendment and invoked our forefather Thomas Paine in declaring the right to bear arms. Speaker Kaitlyn Bennett, who gained fame when she posed for a graduation photo with an AR-10 rifle on Kent State’s campus, said the bills would make the city less safe.
“Rapists, murderers and thieves are all on the mayor’s side today,” she said. “They’re thankful. They’re saying, “Thank you, Mayor Peduto, for allowing me to go after my victims knowing they will be unarmed. Thank you.”
The protest was otherwise peaceful, with police making zero arrests. Mayor Peduto was supposedly not in the building, hence the lack of any comment or indulgence for the protesters’ request for a debate.
About 16 protesters later entered the City-County Building in an unsuccessful attempt to speak with Peduto and City Council members. Six of them were armed and checked their guns in a secure room before entering, according to building security.
“We simply wanted to come over and get any council member’s opinion or statement on do or do they not maybe support Mayor Peduto’s position, or anything that would help us understand where the council is coming from,” said Boyd Martin, who was among the group. “We got nothing.”
O’Connor said he felt it was his duty to propose the ban. Bills like this, he said, could save lives by getting these weapons off the streets. He believed the bills would pass.
“I think, as an elected official, my job is to do everything I can to protect our residents,” he said.
Do you agree, Survivors? Comment below on how you think and feel about this move against gun ownership.