The Republican party must be breathing a huge sigh of relief. The US Secret Service said yesterday that people will not be allowed to bring guns into the Republican convention to be held in Cleveland from July 18-21.
Ohio is a state that allows people in most public areas to carry weapons openly or concealed on their persons with minimal restrictions. Private spaces can forbid anyone bringing guns into those spaces as long as they post signs clearly saying so. The Quicken Loans Arena, where the convention is to be held, forbids weapons.
A petition had been circulated demanding that attendees be allowed to carry their guns openly into the Quicken Arena and the petition had been getting close to its target goal of 50,000. The petition has the usual paranoid language that people need to be able to carry guns in order to feel safe.
This is a direct affront to the Second Amendment and puts all attendees at risk. As the National Rifle Association has made clear, “gun-free zones” such as the Quicken Loans Arena are “the worst and most dangerous of all lies.” The NRA, our leading defender of gun rights, has also correctly pointed out that “gun free zones… tell every insane killer in America… (the) safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.” (March 4, 2016 and Dec. 21, 2012)
Cleveland, Ohio is consistently ranked as one of the top ten most dangerous cities in America. By forcing attendees to leave their firearms at home, 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.
This put the party and its candidates in an awkward position because they are Second Amendment fetishists and never hesitate to say that pretty much any restriction on gun ownership is a sign of government tyranny. But even they must have balked at the idea of having people with guns wandering around during what might well be a heated convention with angry people, and this petition must have caused some consternation among Republican party officials. The Republican party and candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich all said that they would leave the decision up to the Secret Service while Donald Trump said that he would have to ‘read the fine print’ before taking a position..
The decision yesterday by the Secret Service has enabled them to have a face-saving way out.
An online petition in support of the effort rapidly gained signatures and attention in the past week, applying pressure to pro-gun Republican officials and presidential contenders to walk the walk when it comes to guns. But on Monday, the Secret Service said that only law enforcement personnel will be allowed to carry firearms at the event.
“Title 18 United States Code Sections 3056 and 1752 provides the Secret Service authority to preclude firearms from entering sites visited by our protectees, including those located in open-carry states,” Secret Service spokesman Robert K. Hoback said in a statement. “Only authorized law enforcement personnel working in conjunction with the Secret Service for a particular event may carry a firearm inside of the protected site.”
Ticket or not, any unauthorized person with a gun will not be allowed into the event, he said.
A Republican National Committee spokeswoman said the group was merely following the Secret Service’s lead.
One can understand the concerns of the Secret Service. Protecting candidates from random armed people nursing a grievance is bad enough without having to worry about a horde of would-be vigilantes wandering around in a crowded space armed to the teeth and yet poorly trained. All it would take is for one person to even accidentally fire a weapon for a stampede to occur or for some of the people who imagine themselves to be one of ‘the good guys with guns’ to decide to be a hero and shoot ‘the bad guys with guns’, using language much favored by the NRA. And that does not even include the possibility of some deluded prankster starting a rumor that ISIS has infiltrated the venue.
The sense of relief in the statement issued by the party is almost palpable.
“The Republican Party has been and will continue to be a staunch supporter of the 2nd amendment. It is in our Platform and is strongly supported by our candidates,” Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement. “The Republican National Convention is a National Special Security Event which means the Secret Service is the lead agency and we will defer to their planning as it relates to safety and security of the Convention.”
I suspect that the open-carry advocates will argue that the Secret Service’s order is a further sign of government tyranny and that the lack of pushback against the order is a sign that the Republican party is not supportive enough of the Second Amendment.