More than 50 people gathered for the 50th “Fridays Without Fitzpatrick” rally held outside of Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick’s Middletown office.
Throughout the eight-hour event, passionate community members spoke on topics including DACA, mental health and opioid addiction, environmental justice and climate change, reproduction rights, election integrity, and gun safety.
When the discussion turned to gun safety, a number of teenagers were present at the rally to have their voices heard. High school students from the Central Bucks School District spoke out for stricter gun control. Around the crowd, a number of signs quoting survivors of the recent mass school shooting in Florida were visible.
“I’m so excited to see young people out here supporting us,” said Steve Cickay, one of core members and organizers of Fridays Without Fitzpatrick. “I think that there is a groundswell of emotion.”
Throughout the 50 rallies held each Friday in front of the congressman’s office at One Summit Trace, Fitzpatrick himself has not appeared at one. The rallies started once Fitzpatrick took office in January 2017 and often don’t just focus on the moderate Republican from Levittown but also President Donald Trump.
“We’ve been out here every week to protest, and I think we are getting people excited about the big blue wave,” Cickay said.
A number of Democratic candidates were present to connect with the community. Lauren Lareau, who plans to run for state representative in the 142nd district was in attendance along with congressional candidates Steve Bacher, Rachel Reddick and Scott Wallace were present.
“This is absolutely the kind of grass roots energy is what will win the election (for Democrats) in the fall,” Bacher said.
“It’s so important for us who seek to be the voice of the community to listen,” Reddick said. “It’s important for me to be here to show people that I stand with them.”
“It is super important and super effective, especially when looking at the kids in Florida,” Wallace said, referencing the activism. “I love the engagement and the spirit.”
“The shame in this is that Fitzpatrick is never here,” Wallace added.
Each of the candidates had something to say about gun control as well as the importance of local demonstrations.
“There is a difference between the Second Amendment and owning an AR-15,” Lareau said.
For Bacher, gun safety has been part of his platform since his January announcement, he explained. Guns should be at least as heavily regulated as motor vehicles, he added.
“Putting guns in the hands of teachers is a joke,” Bacher said.
Reddick confronted the idea that those who are against guns are simply afraid of the weapons. Serving in the armed forces, Reddick knows how to handle firearms. The former U.S. Navy lawyer has used firearms while working, but still argues that assault weapons need to be taken off of the street, more thorough background checks are needed and current loopholes must be closed.
Wallace said that he does not believe more guns is the answer to the problem and that to him it sounds like trying to cure cancer by having people smoke more cigarettes.