The Trump campaign weighed in concerning a request by the labor union representing police officers in Cleveland that Gov. John Kasich (R) suspend Ohio’s open-carry gun laws during the Republican National Convention. According to the leftist website, ThinkProgress, Katrina Pierson of the Trump organization said that she was “not nervous at all” that citizens might lawfully bear weapons openly during the convention. Speaking in advance of the convention on July 17, the outspoken Pierson said “I am recommending that people follow the law.”
In Ohio, residents aged 21 years and older who legally own a firearm may display it openly in public. However, the Secret Service has forbidden anyone by law enforcement officers to carry weapons in the Quicken Loans convention venue. However, some GOP delegates have said that they plan to carry concealed weapons while visiting elsewhere in Cleveland.
It was after the July 17 fatal shooting of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by a former member of the Nation of Islam that the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association asked for an emergency suspension of the state’s open-carry law for the entirety of the Republican National Convention.
Union president Stephen Loomis told CNN in an interview, “We are sending a letter to Gov. [John] Kasich requesting assistance from him.” Loomis added, “He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something — I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point.” Kasich denied the union’s request. In addition, he will not be attending the convention.
Kasich has signed bill in the past that have protected gunowners’ rights. When he denied the police union’s request, he said that he did not have the power to “arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state law as suggested.”
RNC CEO Jeff Larson agreed with Kasich, saying “[Open carry] is in the Constitution in Ohio, so the governor can’t relax it for a day or tighten it up for five days.” Speaking to reporters, Larson said, “I feel good about the security plan. I think it’s going to be fine.”
Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (D) responded on the same day that if he were sitting in Kasich’s chair, he would do whatever in his power to prevent the carrying of guns near the convention. “I wouldn’t choose to break the law, but if it was possible for it to be done, that would make sense,” said Strickland. “We have got to take some strong action to deal with gun violence.” Strickland is currently running for the U.S. Senate. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio has also called on Kasich to suspend the open-carry law.
Gunowners were openly carrying their firearms on July 17 in Cleveland’s Public Square. “I should be able to conceal this weapon under my clothing so no one sees it, then people…[don’t] feel threatened or upset,” armed Trump supporter Steve Thacker told AFP. Along those lines, gunowner Thacker said, “It’s not dangerous. People that carry firearms are typically people that have no need or want of causing any harm to anybody. They want to protect themselves.”
Police union president Loomis told The New York Times last week, “The last thing in the world we need is anybody walking around here with AR-15s strapped to their back." Loomis said, "Come, say whatever it is that you want to say, make whatever point it is that you want to make, but it's going to be very, very difficult to deal with the R.N.C. as it is."
According to Reuters, a police officer from Alliance OH who supports Trump said he is concerned about open-carry firearms. "As a police officer I am very much in favor of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, but in a situation like this I don't see what good it does to open carry," said Bill Morris, who added, "You don't go walking around Washington, D.C., with a rifle, and I don't see why you should do it here."
The Cleveland police department is reminding citizens that while Ohio is an open-carry state, gunowners may not menace or threaten anyone with their firearms.