[guest post by Dana]
A few days ago, a blog called Hypernationalist began an online petition to allow the open-carry of firearms at the GOP National Convention in Cleveland this July:
In July of 2016, the GOP will host its convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Though Ohio is an open carry state, which allows for the open carry of guns, the hosting venue—the Quicken Loans Arena—strictly forbids the carry of firearms on their premises.
According to the policy on their website, “firearms and other weapons of any kind are strictly forbidden on the premises of Quicken Loans Arena.”
This is a direct affront to the Second Amendment and puts all attendees at risk.
The petition currently has 45,000+ supporters.
Referencing a 2012 report by Forbes that listed Cleveland as the ninth most dangerous place to live in the U.S., and by not allowing open-carry, sponsors of the petition believe that both the GOP and Quicken Loans Arena will be putting citizens at increased risk, both inside and outside the arena, by not allowing open-carry. They also cite the possibility of an ISIS attack as another reason to allow attendees to be armed. Consider that the arena holds 20,000 people, and the GOP expects 50,000 attendees over 4 days of the convention, thus if there were an attack and the attendees were unarmed and unable to defend themselves, the loss of life could be enormous. Post-Belgium, GOP organizers and law enforcement have stepped up efforts to make sure the convention will be secured.
And today, in response to the petition, the Secret Service announced that convention attendees will not be allowed to carry guns into the arena.
Over at NRO, Charles Cooke, passionate defender of the Second Amendment, explains why he believes the move for open-carry at the convention is misguided. Here is a sampling:
First: There is no Second Amendment violation here. The Second Amendment is a check on government, not on private entities. The Quicken Loans Arena is a private corporation. If the arena’s rule is no firearms, then those who wish to use it must abide by that rule. And if they don’t like it, they can go somewhere else.
Second: As absurd as the idea of “gun free zones” is in a country with this many firearms, there are certain circumstances in which it is prudent to try to limit the presence of guns. It has always been ridiculous to hear progressives predict that widespread concealed carry would lead to frustrated shoppers shooting each other in the supermarket or to irritated customers opening fire at the bank; and it has been hilarious to witness the freakout we see each year when the press learns that NRA members may pack heat at their annual convention. But a political convention strikes me as being less akin to those examples, and more akin to, say, the circumstances that obtain at a polling place. And the argument against carry strikes me as being less “people will shoot each other for no reason” and more “we need to make sure that the results aren’t marred by charges of intimidation.” From the early days of the American Republic, certain “time and place” restrictions have been imposed upon the right to bear arms, especially when the integrity of democracy was perceived to be at stake. Delaware’s 1776 Constitution, for example, made clear that:
“To prevent any violence or force being used at the said elections, no person shall come armed to any of them, and no muster of the militia shall be made on that day; nor shall any battalion or company give in their votes immediately succeeding each other, if any other voter, who offers to vote, objects thereto; nor shall any battalion or company, in the pay of the continent, or of this or any other State, be suffered to remain at the time and place of holding the said elections, nor within one mile of the said places respectively, for twenty-four hours before the opening said elections, nor within twenty-four hours after the same are closed, so as in any manner to impede the freely and conveniently carrying on the said election: Provided always, That every elector may, in a peaceable and orderly manner, give in his vote on the said day of election.”
This does not strike me as an unconscionable “affront” to the right to keep and bear arms, nor as a rule that is likely to “puts all attendees at risk,” especially given that security will already be tight in Cleveland.
And then there is the issue of trust and risk:
Third: Given the brazen manner in which Donald Trump has encouraged physical violence against those who have protested at his rallies — “next time, we might have to kill him,” one Trump fan warned a man he sucker punched — there is pretty much no incentive for the Quicken Loans Arena team to be generous here. Generally speaking, I am of the view that trying to stop shootings by putting up signs is the most abject of human folly. But with this guy? As is the case with most of the pillars of free and civil society, liberalized carry laws presume a certain degree of responsibility and trust — a degree that has, alas, not been on display from Trump and the more excitable among his followers.
As far as I can tell, Donald Trump is the only GOP candidate who has been asked about the petition. Trump, who warned of possible rioting by his supporters if he doesn’t leave the convention as the nominee*, would like to know the details before making a full comment:
“I have not seen the petition. I want to see what it says. I want to read the fine print.”
(*When asked whether he would tell supporters that he doesn’t want to see violence at the convention, Trump said “Of course I would, 100 percent. But I have no control over the people…” Full quote at the link.)