At Capitol rally, lawmakers, gun owners push back on gun violence-reduction bills

Produced By: - June 12, 2023 2:46 pm

On the front steps of the state Capitol, state Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, , and state Rep. Abby Major, R-Armstrong, , led firearm owners from across the commonwealth for the 2023 Right to Keep and Bear Arms Rally with the theme, “United We Stand!”

Despite the rain, roughly 100 supporters showed up for the rally, with several bringing Second Amendment t-shirts, posters and flags, including a large ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag connected to the back of one supporter’s hat using safety pins. 

Some participants also brought their firearms, including a long-barreled rifle.

“House Democrats attempted to pass four gun control bills, all attempts to dwindle away at our Second Amendment rights,” Major said. “Expect more and more attempts to take away your rights this year, as House Democrats have the majority for the first time in two years.”

Major told supporters that she also expects to see House Bill 912, which would expand a dangerous weapons ban to more areas in court facilities, to be on the floor soon.

Guest speakers Karise and Jerel Crew, CEO and founders of That Gun Talk, a program that teaches gun owners how to handle, maintain, safely store and use a firearm safely, spoke to the crowd about how they teach African American residents in Philadelphia how to properly carry a gun, instead of being afraid of them.

Karise Crew claimed her passion for helping others learn how to properly handle a gun stemmed from an arrest at Philadelphia International Airport’s TSA pre-checkpoint, even though she possessed a valid license to carry a firearm and had no previous criminal record.

In April of 2018, Karise Crew was arrested after a loaded Glock was found in her purse while going through TSA pre-check, claiming she forgot the firearm was there.

 “I had a fully loaded Glock 43 with one in the chamber in my purse,” Karise Crew said. “Though my husband had warned me about responsible gun ownership, I lacked practical experience besides being the daughter of a veteran and a daughter of a deer hunter. While sitting in the Philadelphia jail waiting to be released, I realized I have to be responsible.”

Karise and Jerel Crew pointed to lawmakers in Philadelphia, including District Attorney Larry Krasner, for doing nothing to halt gun violence in the city, claiming Krasner has allowed violent criminals to reenter society after committing crimes, drawing  loud applause from the crowd.

Krasner, a Democrat, who was the target of a Republican-led impeachment effort, has defended his policies, arguing that the state’s largest city needs “cutting edge enforcement, coupled with a serious investment in prevention,” FOX-29 in Philadelphia reported last September.

“The Second Amendment protects everything else,” Jerel Crew said. “It shall not be questioned. Why is that so difficult to understand? Shall not be questioned. Yet for some reason [Democrats] challenge us every single year.”

Jerel Crew also urged supporters to take out their frustrations by paying attention to who their lawmakers are and start showing up to the polls during elections.

Dush wrapped up the event by thanking Major and Karise and Jerel Crew, and told attendees that no one in Philadelphia is protecting its citizens, claiming leaders in Philadelphia want citizens to surrender their “God-given rights to bear arms.”

“Radical progressives want us to believe that the government can protect us,” Dush said. “Who in God’s name is protecting the people in Philadelphia because it sure isn’t their local government.”

As of June 11, there have been 640 nonfatal and 164 fatal shooting victims in Philadelphia in 2023. There have been 187 total homicides in the city, a 17 percent decrease from 2022.

Before the event ended, Major reminded participants that if they plan on going inside the Capitol, they need to register their firearms with the Capitol Police.

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Samuel O'Neal
Samuel O'Neal

Samuel O'Neal is a summer intern for the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association. He is a senior journalism major at Temple University.


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