As the presidential election and race for the White House continues, a petition is circulating online asking that the Republican National Convention become an open-carry event.
The only problem: Quicken Loans Arena, where the RNC is holding their convention July 18 through July 21, strictly prohibits firearms or weapons of any kind. Quicken Loans Arena says they reserve the right as a private entity to ban handguns on their premises.
The Change.org petition‘s organizers say while they do not want Quicken Loans Arena to abandon their policy all together, they do want it suspended during the GOP convention.
The petition argues that allowing gun owners to carry inside the convention hall makes everyone safer.
“This is a direct affront to the Second Amendment,” the Change.org petition says. “By forcing attendees to leave their firearms at home, the RNC and Quicken Loans Arena are putting tens of thousands of people at risk both inside and outside of the convention site.”
Back in Erie, one Republican delegate candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, Robert Yates, says he attended a Republican debate at the Q Arena in August 2015.
Yates says even then, security was more than enough.
“At that time, they had Cleveland local police, Ohio State Troopers and they had National Guard Army personnel there with bomb-sniffing dogs so we had a lot of security just to get inside. So, I think once you are safely inside, there’s nothing really to worry about,” said Yates, who continued jokingly, “I don’t expect any of the delegate candidates to be shooting each other! It seems unnecessary although I respect their point.”
Yates says while he is a Republican, he does not believe this particular argument holds much merit.
“I think it’s a little bit far-fetched to expect the convention delegates to be packing heat while they are inside the hall,” he said. “And it’s just not necessary, there is plenty of security from state, local and federal authorities so I am not worried about that.”
Erie County Sheriff John Loomis echoes Yates’ feelings, saying he does not really understand the point of the petition.
“With the collaborative effort of the federal, state and local law-enforcement that will be present, I don’t believe [having open carry] will make their job any easier,” said Sheriff Loomis. “The task [of security] under normal circumstances is not easy. It just puts everybody on a heightened level of alertness. I understand the Constitution of the state allows them to [open carry], but on the other hand I don’t understand their reasoning to want to possibly frighten the community.”