The United States Secret Service said today that attendees of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July will not be allowed to enter the event if they are carrying a firearm, despite the growing number of signatures on an online petition asking the RNC to permit firearms.
The petition on Change.org has accrued more than 46,000 signatures directed toward the Quicken Loans Arena (where the convention will be held), the RNC and the Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The petition noted that the Quicken Loans Arena prohibits weapons on its premises, though Ohio is an open-carry state. The arena’s ban “is a direct affront to the Second Amendment and puts all attendees at risk,” the petition’s author wrote.
However, private employers and entities are permitted to ban firearms despite the open-carry law, according to Ohio state law. The Secret Service, in response to interest around the petition, also noted a separate law, Title 18, United States Code Sections 3056 and 1752, that permits the agency to overrule state open-carry laws when it is overseeing a protected site.
“Only authorized law enforcement personnel working in conjunction with the Secret Service for a particular event may carry a firearm inside of the protected site,” Secret Service spokesperson Kevin Dye said in an emailed statement to MSNBC. “The Secret Service works closely with our local law enforcement partners in each state to ensure a safe environment for our protectees and the public. Individuals determined to be carrying firearms will not be allowed past a predetermined outer perimeter checkpoint, regardless of whether they possess a ticket to the event.”
The GOP convention spokesperson Kirsten Kukowksi said the Republican Party will continue to support the Second Amendment, but will follow the orders of Secret Service first and foremost.
“The Republican Party has been and will continue to be a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment. It is in our platform and is strongly supported by our candidates. The Republican National Convention is a national special security event which means the Secret Service is the lead agency and we will defer to their planning as it relates to safety and security of the convention,” Kukowski said in a statement on Monday.
Trump declined to share his opinion about the petition on the Sunday morning talk shows, but said that he would look into it.
“I have not seen the petition,” Trump said on ABC. “I want to see what it says. I want to read the fine print. I have to see what it says. I’m a very, very strong person for Second Amendment. I think very few people are stronger. And I have to see the petition.”
When the ABC host Jonathan Karl asked Trump to speak more broadly about permitting delegates to carry firearms at the convention, Trump continued to refuse to comment.
“I don’t want to forget the petition,” Trump told Karl. “It’s the first I hear about it — of it, and frankly, you know, nobody is stronger on the Second Amendment than me. But I would like to take a look at it.”
Trump also warned earlier in March on CNN that his supporters will riot at the convention in Cleveland if he fails to win the nomination.
“I think you’d have riots,” Trump told CNN on March 16. “I think you’d have riots. I’m representing a tremendous many, many millions of people.”
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the city has proposed to purchase 2,000 sets of riot gear as part of its move to spend the $50 million federal security grant awarded to the city for the July RNC event.
Christina Coleburn contributed reporting to this story.