Editor's note: This article was originally published Saturday, June 27.
A man who appeared to carry a rifle into Lancaster Central Market sometime Saturday was within his rights, Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace said after photos of the man circulated on social media.
The mayor was critical of the man, who has not been identified and was not wearing a mask. He appeared to purchase food with the firearm slung across his chest.
"Clearly, this person is disrespecting our community and our values," Sorace wrote in a Facebook post. "The gun is beyond unnecessary. And not wearing a mask in an enclosed building where social distancing is not possible is just plain inconsiderate."
Efforts to reach Lancaster city police or management at Central Market on Saturday were not successful.
Some who commented on Sorace's post were outraged by the man's actions.
"We are all living in enough fear with all this. Sad move on his part," one person wrote.
"As a responsible gun owner with a concealed carry permit, it was pretty clear that the person who did this was trying to stir up the populace and create a situation where one didn’t need to exist," another person wrote. "It was completely disrespectful and deliberately disruptive, especially in this climate."
Others didn't take issue with the man.
"Those are his rights," one person wrote. "Get over it and stop fearing everything."
Sorace noted that he was within his legal rights. State law allows citizens to openly carry firearms in publicly owned places.
The only exception is a city designated as first class, which is classified as having more than 1 million residents. The only Pennsylvania city to meet that criteria is Philadelphia.
Sorace also noted in her post that state law preempts any local ordinance that would place any bans on carrying firearms.
"Plain speak: There isn't a damn thing that I or members of City Council can do about this legislatively," she wrote in her post.
Sorace encouraged those angered by the man's actions to contact state Rep. Michael Sturla and state Sen. Scott Martin and advocate for legislation that would allow municipalities to ban firearms from city-owned properties.
"Last I checked, you couldn't bring a gun like this into the Capitol where they work. Or for that matter the Lancaster County Government Building at 150 N. Queen.),” Sorace wrote. "Our Lancaster Central Market standholders and patrons deserve the same protections.