Open Gun Carrying Causing Concern About GOP Convention

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The violence in Dallas last week is intensifying worries in Cleveland about visitors and protesters taking firearms downtown during next week’s Republican National Convention, where thousands of people plan to demonstrate, the New York Times reports. Those who legally own guns can take them into the 1.7-square-mile area where events and protests connected to the convention will be held. Protesters will flood the city, with causes ranging from white supremacy to Palestinian rights.

“Obviously, everybody is on edge after Dallas,” said Brian Kazy of the Cleveland City Council’s Safety Committee. Kazy said he had never been concerned about Ohio’s open-carry laws. Then Micah Johnson, an African-American sniper determined to murder white police officers, went on a rampage in Texas, which also has open-carry laws. “If you had some mass confusion, even if you had a civilian who was carrying who would attempt to help out, I think the mentality of any law enforcement officer would see an individual with a gun, would see an individual possibly shoot and would react to that,” he said.

Officials are promising increased security during the Republican gathering. Within the convention area, the Secret Service will set up a smaller perimeter near the Quicken Loans Arena that will have stricter security and prohibit guns.

Delegates to the convention will not be able to take guns onto the convention floor. Given the recent tumult around the nation, some leaders are anxious that the environment could turn dangerous. One group of current and former members of the military called the Oath Keepers, who have shown up at other tense events heavily armed, plan to carry weapons into Cleveland.

Stephen Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, said he strongly supports citizens’ rights to bear arms, but he is urging people not to take their guns near Cleveland’s downtown during the convention. “The last thing in the world we need is anybody walking around here with AR-15s strapped to their back,” he said.

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