As police officers began a seven-hour stand-off Tuesday night with alleged gunman Andrew Cairns, which included an exchange of gunfire that resulted in the death of 85-year-old Marie Zienkewicz, a meeting of the Concerned Gun Owners of Bucks County was in session a few blocks away at the Warminster VFW.
The group formed shortly after President Barack Obama announced his proposals aimed at curbing gun violence in America, formed in reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting that killed 26 people, mostly first-graders. Tuesday night was the second time the organization met, attracting more than 300 attendees to the standing-room only event, acording to organization member William Marsh.
"We are a very peaceful, but committed, group that does not want law-abiding gun owners to become scapegoats for events like this and Sandy Hook," said Marsh, a Warminster business owner.
Nearby, unknown to the members at the time, Andrew Cairns was allegedly shooting at police from his second floor apartment. Cairns, according to the arrest affidavit, is a legal, registered owner of a number of guns, including:
- .44 magnum handgun
- 12 gauge Winchester shotgun
- 9mm firearm
- several .22 caliber firearms
- several .380 caliber firearms.
At the meeting, speakers spent more than two hours presenting strategies to push back against the scrutiny and gun control measures that have emerged since the Sandy Hook shootings, WFMZ reports. State Rep. Paul Clymer (145th district-Bucks), told the attendees that the guns are not the cause of the violence, and more attention should be made to cultural influences such as video games and violent films, the article says. (Phone calls to Rep. Clymer's office have not been returned.)
According to Marsh, the group agrees that the proposals and calls for gun control are coming from an emotional reaction to the bloodshed, when the debate needs to originate from a more rational foundation.
"It feels great to say, 'We're going to get the guns,'" said Marsh. "It feels like you are really doing something when you say that, but all that is happening is law-abiding citizens are being turned into criminals."
By throwing hands in the air and saying get rid of all the guns, Marsh said, only people who obey the law will be affected. Criminals are unlikely to suddenly turn in their weapons, and the law-abiding citizens will be left defenseless, he says.
"These stricter laws would do nothing to prevent a random person from going crazy and walking into a school," said Marsh.