It's no secret that many members of the Republican party have close ties to the National Rifle Association. Now that the GOP is having its biggest party of the year, the Republican National Convention, it would only make sense if a few members of the NRA attended — and many likely will do so as delegates and party officials. But given the firearms-friendly bent of some GOP supporters, it might be good to know: Can you carry a gun in public in Cleveland, where the convention is going down?
The short answer is yes. NPR reported that even some GOP delegates are planning on bringing their guns with them to Cleveland after seeing violence at other Trump rallies around the nation. And they're completely able to do so, with one caveat: The Secret Service will not allow anybody but law enforcement to bring guns into the Quicken Loans Arena, where the RNC itself is held. But outside, near the expected thousands of protesters and counter-protesters who'll show up? No problemo. That's because Ohio has a very strict open carry law, which the city of Cleveland has to recognize.
"We'll follow the law. The state has a law, we follow the law. Whatever that law is we'll follow it," Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson told NPR. The event security plan currently limits many other items, like water guns, glass bottles, and tennis balls, but thanks to state law, guns are not on the list.
So that means that people can carry guns, without a permit, as long as they're visible. But it doesn't stop there. Ohio gun law also permits individuals to carry their weapons under clothes or otherwise hidden if they have a concealed carry permit. The state accepts such permits from a large number of states, thanks to a reciprocity deal.
Jamie Klein, a delegate from Pennsylvania supporting Trump, told NPR that he plans to bring a concealed 9 mm pistol with him — at least, outside of the convention arena. He said, "I think it's a very pragmatic solution, and I think it's part of Republican values, American values to be responsible for our own safety and our own well-being." Citing his older age, he said he wouldn't hesitate to use it if he were ever in any danger.
One area of concern is the mayhem and confusion during the recent sniper attack in Dallas. There, protesters openly carrying firearms made law enforcement's investigation more difficult. Police even released a photo of a "suspect" who in fact had nothing to do with the shooting. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told The Dallas Morning News, "It's logical to say that in a shooting situation, open carry can be detrimental to the safety of individuals."
The issue has received attention since as far back as March. A petition to allow guns into the convention hall has received more than 55,000 signatures. That's not likely to affect the Secret Service's policy, but if they ask Trump, gun-free zones are problematic when the "bad guys" get wind of them. "They hear gun free zones and they go in there with their guns blazing," he told CNN in May. If you follow that line of thinking, Cleveland will have no problems whatsoever.