Cleveland officials said Wednesday that they will uphold the right of protesters at the Republican National Convention to carry firearms even as they expressed opposition to the state's open carry laws. Speaking to reporters in advance of the Republican National Convention next week, both Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson and police Chief Calvin Williams they were bound by the state's laws allowing people to carry guns even if they disagreed with them.
Four years ago, as Republicans were getting ready for their national convention in Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn worked with law-enforcement officials to create as safe an environment as possible, including a ban on items that might be considered security threats. As we discussed at the time, that meant people outside the convention would face restrictions on things like water pistols and placards.
Under Florida law, however, officials couldn't prohibit people from carrying real guns around the convention site, even if they wanted to. Tampa's mayor asked Gov. Rick Scott (R) to use his discretion and make an exception to the state law in the interest of security and public safety. Scott refused.
Four years later, the Wall Street Journal reports on an eerily similar situation.
The same report added, however, that city officials have already banned "a wide array of items inside a broad zone in downtown Cleveland around the convention site, including water guns, toy guns, knives, aerosol cans, rope, tennis balls and others."
Remember, we're not talking about what's allowed inside the convention hall itself, where security will be very tight for obvious reasons. Those who attend the convention will not be allowed to carry firearms.
Rather, this is about what's permitted outside the venue, where various groups, protesters, and observers will have their say. Those folks will be able to carry loaded guns, but won't be able to carry toy guns.
Tennis balls are out, but bullets are fine.
By all appearances, Cleveland officials would prefer a more sensible policy, but state law won't allow it.