WILKES-BARRE - Passersby on Public Square were greeted with an arresting sight Saturday: A man carrying a semi-automatic weapon.

Jason Demnicki had a version of a Kalashnikov on his back and a loaded handgun on his belt. He also had political ammunition - signs showing his support for the Second Amendment.

Demnicki, 26, is a student at Luzerne County Community College, where he said he's not allowed to carry a gun, which is something he wants to change.

In Wilkes-Barre and across the country, people demonstrated in support of gun ownership and against stricter regulations on the right to bear arms, according to media reports. The response comes soon after President Barack Obama's announcement that he wants Congress to consider stricter firearms regulations.

Demnicki said he couldn't afford a trip to Harrisburg or Philadelphia for events there, so he came to Public Square. With a Gadsden flag, his signs and other documents arranged on a park bench, he held forth on the subject of the Second Amendment. More law-abiding citizens with guns would translate to less crime, he said. College students with concealed guns could stop campus shootings and disarming people would lead to enslavement, read his signs.

"Those who don't listen to the law slaughter those who do," he said.

Dallas Shaefer said he had just dropped off his girlfriend at work and was headed back to Plymouth when he saw Demnicki's group and joined them. He had a handgun on his waist, which he said he keeps there partly because it's more comfortable than carrying concealed and partly to make a statement. He wears the gun when he goes out, people see it, and that normalizes the idea of someone carrying a gun, he said.

Shaefer pointed to a recent example from his hometown to illustrate why he thinks the world can be a safer place when people carry guns. After a man opened fire at a Plymouth bar, killing one person and wounding another one, another patron returned fire and wounded and stopped the shooter.

Both men said they want gun laws to stay the same or become more relaxed.

"Self-defense is a messy subject. The day I have to use this gun will be the worst day of my life," he said. "I'd give up my gun tomorrow if you could guarantee me everyone else would, but that's not going to happen."

bwellock@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2051, @CVBillW