Open carry in Central Market

A man was seen carrying a rifle in Central Market sometime on Saturday, June 27, 2020.

Lancaster Central Market will add additional security staff in response to a man who walked around market Saturday, June 27, carrying what appeared to be a functioning rifle.

The security personnel, who will not be armed, will start this weekend and continue as needed, the market's board of trustees said in a statement Wednesday in response to the issue.

The man's presence prompted Mary Goss, market's manager, to call to a police non-emergency number; she had been notified by a door monitor that a man was coming in carrying a rifle.

The man left before police arrived and because Pennsylvania is an open-carry state, meaning that people can openly carry firearms in all counties but Philadelphia, there isn't anything police could have done anyway, according to Lt. William Hickey.

Hickey said police don't know who the man is. Efforts to reach a man believed to be him have been unsuccessful.

The trust said it requests patrons leave their firearms at home, though it understands open carry laws allow them.

"When individuals exercise their 'open carry' right in Market, our policy is to notify police of the situation to ensure that everyone within Market feels a sense of security," the statement said. "We never want customers or employees to feel unsafe in Market."

"We understand that some may not feel this solution is enough. This is a policy issue that creates strong feelings and passionate debate. We encourage everyone to share your views on state firearm policies with your state representatives," the statement said.

That echoed a statement from Mayor Danene Sorace, who this weekend urged people upset about the situation to contact lawmakers.

Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster city, said he's gotten more than a dozen, but fewer than 100, calls on the issue.

Unfortunately, he said, there's nothing that can be done legislatively.

"As long as the Republicans control the house and the senate — which will probably ensure that people like this will go out and vote for them" there's no chance of passing what he sees as sensible gun law reform. "I can introduce legislation until I'm blue in face" but it doesn't go anywhere, he said.

Sturla said early on in his career, he used to believe more uniform gun laws were necessary, but that's changed. "I really came to realize that we've got a lot of people who are really immature and out of control," he said.

Terry Trego, chief of staff to Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, said they got about two-dozen calls and a "slight majority expressed concerns."

The man with the rifle was also not wearing a mask.

Dani Decker, market's communications manager, said the proper use of a mask is required to enter. 

"For those with a medical disability that are unable to wear a mask we have been allowing entry. We are continuously reviewing our policies on the matter," she said.

"As a grocer/food provider the state mandate reads 'individuals who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (including children under the age of 2 years per CDC guidance) may enter the premises and are not required to provide documentation of such medical condition' so we have not previously turned people away but have encouraged them to wear a mask when they return to Market," Decker said.

Decker did not know how many guards would be used or what the cost would be.