August 17, 2017
In wake of the recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, one Pennsylvania lawmaker is proposing legislation that he says would make public demonstrations safer.
State Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Philadelphia, announced plans to introduce a bill that would ban the possession of firearms and other "dangerous articles" at protests and similar gatherings.
Kinsey said the events in Charlottesville were a reminder of how important it is to protect citizens' First Amendment right.
“Civics teaches us that the right of people to assemble peacefully to express, promote, pursue and defend their beliefs is fundamental to a functioning democracy," Kinsey said. "The presence of firearms and other dangerous articles place that fundamental right in grave danger.”
This past weekend, neo-Nazis and white supremacists gathered in the Virginia town for a "Unite the Right" rally.
On Saturday, a man, who was reportedly fascinated with Nazism and Adolf Hitler, allegedly drove into a crowd of people counter protesting the rally, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
A number of the "Unite the Right" demonstrators in Charlottesville were openly carrying guns. Kinsey said the presence of firearms impedes the right to assemble peacefully.
“Just as firearms are prohibited in our schools, federal facilities, military bases and hospitals, they should also be prohibited whenever public demonstrations are taking place,” he said.
Kinsey is currently looking for co-sponsors for the legislation.