As of this morning, more than 11,000 people have signed a petition at Change.org demanding that openly-carried firearms be allowed inside the Quicken Loans Arena during the Republican National Convention this summer, as noted this morning by WKYC in Cleveland, Ohio, out of concerns over a potential terrorist attack.
What happened earlier this week in Brussels apparently sparked the petition, which says a ban on firearms inside the arena “is a direct affront to the Second Amendment and puts all attendees at risk.” The petition notes that the National Rifle Association has declared so-called “gun-free zones” to be dangerous.” NRA is hardly alone. Other major gun rights groups, including the Bellevue, Washington-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, have said the same thing.
According to WEWS in Cleveland, the local ABC affiliate, the Secret Service has nixed the idea. They use a federal statute to back that up. No guns are allowed inside any site where a “protectee” will be, and that includes all presidential candidates and several other people who will likely be attending. (Just try to get a firearm into Seattle’s Safeco Field this evening for the Bernie Sanders event to fire up supporters as Evergreen State Democrats prepare for tomorrow’s caucuses. “The Safe” is a “gun-free zone” already.)
“By forcing attendees to leave their firearms at home,” the petition states, “the RNC and Quicken Loans Arena are putting tens of thousands of people at risk both inside and outside of the convention site. This doesn’t even begin to factor in the possibility of an ISIS terrorist attack on the arena during the convention. Without the right to protect themselves, those at the Quicken Loans Arena will be sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life.”
The petition was launched by “NA” in Cleveland. Republicans will gather there July 18-21 to nominate candidates for president and vice president, and adopt a platform heading into the November elections.
Whether the petition accomplishes anything beyond ginning up attention to the Second Amendment, which it has already done, open carry advocates would probably argue that a convention jammed with people packing sidearms would be the safest place in the country for all the dignitaries planning to attend. In the event of trouble, it would be “the good guys against the bad guys.” The question that security personnel in such a situation would be asking, of course, is “who are the good guys?”
This comes as Fox News this morning is reporting raids and terrorist arrests in the wake of the Brussels bombing that killed some 30 people including at least two Americans. European authorities are moving against terror suspects, including the arrest in France last night of the alleged “suspected ringleader” in the Paris attack last November that killed 130 people.
If nothing else, the petition puts open carry in the spotlight, whether leading advocates want it there or not. The open carry movement is growing in many parts of the country. Open Carry activists have their own website and forum. Open carry is legal in Washington, Idaho and Oregon, for example, along with Arizona and most other western states.
All three remaining presidential contenders have expressed strong advocacy for the right to keep and bear arms. It has become a lightning rod topic because Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton has made gun control a central issue in her campaign to succeed Barack Obama in the White House.
Would open carry of firearms at the GOP convention make the event safer, or increase the potential for trouble? That’s a legitimate question. There are bound to be protests at the convention, primarily designed to disrupt the event. Would the sight of armed attendees cool some emotional jets, and perhaps deter a terrorist action, or just the opposite?
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