Ohio Gov. John Kasich won’t — and can’t — suspend the open carry of firearms in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention despite the request from the city’s police union and recent violent attacks on police in other parts of the country.
Citing the Dallas attack earlier this month and Sunday’s in Baton Rouge, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, Steve Loomis, asked the governor to temporarily suspend the practice through an executive order in a letter Sunday.
“Having individuals carrying firearms throughout the downtown area of Cleveland where passionate protestors from all parts of the world are converging only increases the potential for violence,” he said and suggested the order only target the event zone.
“Governor, someone in leadership role has to start looking out for the safety of the patrol officers on the street. In Cleveland we are experiencing a unique situation during a very difficult time for law enforcement. We are asking for a limited exercise of authority that would help,” he said.
In an interview with CNN, Loomis characterized bringing guns into politically volatile areas as screaming fire in a crowded theater. “That’s exactly what they’re doing by bringing those guns down there,” he said.
“It’s irresponsible of those folks — especially right now — to be coming downtown with open carry ARs or anything else. I couldn’t care less if it’s legal or not,” he said.
Under state law, licensed firearm owners can openly carry firearms in the 1.7 square mile event zone located on the streets of downtown Cleveland. However, the area around the venue, the Quicken Loans Arena, prohibit firearms.
Responding to the request, Kasich said that he, nor any other governor, has the “power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested.”
“The bonds between our communities and police must be reset and rebuilt — as we’re doing in Ohio — so our communities and officers can both be safe. Everyone has an important role to play in that renewal,” Kasich said.
Officials at the event say law enforcement have been preparing for the convention for more than nine months and have anticipated possible armed demonstrators. More than 1,500 police officers and 3,000 federal agents are stationed on scene.