PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Chanting "we will not comply, we will not comply," they filed down Grant Street to the City-County building to raise their voices in a chorus of "we need our guns to protect ourselves," as Jody Corfield, of Millvale, put it.
The City of Pittsburgh is considering several new regulations in the wake of the Tree of Life tragedy that would restrict semi-automatic weapons and accessories and take weapons away temporarily from those who are a threat.
Watch The Rally Here:
The demonstrators arrived with AR15s, AKs and an assortment of everything else openly – legally – carried. They numbered in the hundreds to the surprise of Gibran Turner, of Penn Hills.
"I'm amazed. I did not believe we'd have as many people as we have. I've never seen anything like it," he said.
Organizers asked those bringing guns to bring them empty or follow all safe weapon practices. Kevin Cowey brought his AR-15 from his home in Avalon.
"I use it for sporting, typically. I'm not a hunter personally, but I enjoy target practice, but most of the time, it just lives in the house and is there for self-defense," he said.
Walter Gibson arrived from North Versailles with two guns strapped across his back.
"I have an AR-15 on my back right now. I use that for target shooting. I use it for recreational shooting. I use it to teach my children gun safety. I use it to protect my home. None of those things should be criminalized," he said.
On her waist in a paisley holster, Jessica Ehlinger, from Leechburg, carried a small pistol.
"They want to blame the guns and it's who gets ahold of the guns is the biggest issue," she said.
Joann Crano works in Oakland and came with a very pointed message.
"Mayor Peduto is trying to take our rights away from us," she said.
A point echoed by David Indino and others.
"I'm just upset that the mayor wants to enact laws that are illegal according to the Pennsylvania Constitution," he said.
Less than a handful of counter-protesters appeared across the street, including Jim Grant from the North Side.
"I think it's ridiculous to be having people coming in here with guns out in the open," he said.
Cathy Coudriet carried a small sign imploring people to love thy neighbor.
"I walk down the street all the time and I feel threatened today by these people who have come into our city trying to tell us what to do," she said.
But the protesters were emphatic. Their presence was a peaceful demonstration, which it was throughout, only meant to raise awareness of what they view as Pittsburgh's attempt to thwart their rights.
An hour and a half after it started, the crowd dispersed, vowing to return for the city's Jan. 24 public hearing on the bills.
for more features.