2nd Amendment supporters rally in Montrose

About 250 people turned out for a rally Friday, April 19, in Montrose in support of the Second Amendment. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

About 250 people turned out for a rally Friday, April 19, in Montrose in support of the Second Amendment. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

BY STACI WILSON

The battles of Lexington and Concord hailed the beginning of the Revolutionary War 238 years ago, on April 19, 1775.

The battle began over the English army’s attempt to seize the armaments of the Massachusetts’ militia.
And so the date – April 19 – was not chosen by accident when Spirit of 1776 organizers planned to hold a rally in support of the Second Amendment on the village green in Montrose – the Susquehanna County seat.

Frank Mulligan of the New Milford Rifle & Pistol Club said, “I feel like our rights – from guns to freedom of the press – are being infringed upon.”

He said rallies – like the one held Friday in Montrose – are important. “They bring everybody together,” he said. “So you know you’re not alone in your thinking.”

“It’s not about anything else but standing for the Constitution,” he said.

In late February, Susquehanna County Commissioners were criticized in the press after they adopted a ceremonial resolution that would make any new gun laws, or laws that infringed upon Second Amendment rights, unenforceable in the county.

But the commissioners have also received a great deal of public support and praise for their stand, including the support of about 250 people who gathered for the Friday noon rally.

Vic Lawson of the Bradford County Concerned Taxpayers was one of those people praising the Susquehanna County Commissioners.

It was their action, he said, that prompted the passage of a similar resolution by the Bradford County Commissioners.

Susquehanna County Sheriff Lance Benedict said, “Laws affect honest people like yourselves. Criminals don’t follow the rules.”

He advocated tougher penalties for criminals and also for addressing problems with the mental health system.

Benedict said he had sworn an oath to the Commonwealth. “I don’t work for the man in Washington, D.C., and I’m not coming to take your guns.”

Hunter, gun collector and longtime newspaper man John Kameen, of Forest City, warned that a liberal agenda had taken over the news business.

Kameen spoke out against the rhetoric used by the left in the gun debate. “They are winning the war of words by labeling things,” he said, citing proposed “Common Sense” gun laws as an example of the labeling.

He said that in the national gun debate, hunters often are to be assuaged by elected leaders affirming they do not intend to impact weapons used for hunting.

“I tell President Obama that we don’t have a constitutional right to deer hunt but we do have a constitutional right to bear arms,” Kameen said drawing applause.

“When is America going to wake up?” asked Helga Hooper, a Jewish survivor of a Nazi prison during World War II.

Hooper, who now lives in Clifford, became a prisoner at age 5.

She warned of impacts caused by the confiscation of weapons by a government.

And Hooper said she had hoped more people would have turned out for the rally.

“It looks to me that the American people are asleep. They say it can’t happen here,” she said. “Yes, it can. And if we don’t do anything about it, yes, it will.”

As an undergraduate, Susquehanna County District Attorney Jason Legg majored in history – and took a particular interest in American history.

Legg outlined the events that lead up to the Battles of Lexington and Concord. “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it,” he said.

The rally moved from historical context to the next generation with speaker Alicen Backus, a Lackawanna Trail High School student.

“Nothing troubles me more than losing my first and second amendment rights,” Backus said.