When the Republican National Convention kicks off in Cleveland next week, guns will not be allowed in the host Quicken Loans Arena, but protesters outside will be allowed to openly carry firearms, city officials confirmed Wednesday. Ohio is an open carry state and no permit is required to do so for a lawful gunowner. To carry a concealed weapon, protesters would need a permit.
The convention was always going to be a tense affair as GOP supporters and protesters flock to the city, but the recent police killings in Dallas have added an extra layer of concern. The recent revival of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the two fatal police shootings has also increased the friction between portesters and police. Both the city’s mayor and police chief have expressed opposition to permitting guns during the convention, but said they are bound by state law on the issue. The Secret Service banned guns inside the arena for security reasons. The group Oath Keepers is expected to make an armed appearance, according to the Wall Street Journal.
There will be a designated event zone that will cover 1.7 square miles of downtown Cleveland where, other than the stadium, carrying a gun will be permitted. Adding to the absurdity of armed protesters marching through the city is the fact that while guns are allowed, there is a long list of banned items in the event zone, including: toy guns (!), water guns, bottles, cans, thermoses, ladders, canned goods, and tennis balls.