As they promised, protesters have been exercising their right to openly carry firearms, under state law, outside the security zone around the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, despite the pleas and concerns voiced by some in recent days.
Yesterday we reported that the city’s police requested that Gov. John Kasich (R) declare a state of emergency in the county, which would allow him to then suspend the state’s open carry laws for the duration of the RNC, for fears that protesters with firearms would cause violence. Kasich refused to do so, saying, “Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested.”
This story from USA Today says that shortly before 6 p.m., a group of 10 men describing themselves as the West Ohio Minutemen walked through the streets openly and legally carrying rifles and handguns.
“The men said they were there solely to exercise their Second Amendment rights. They were met with a mix of curiosity, caution and a bit of disdain from passersby. Several police officers calmly chatted with group members, urging them to “be safe.” Group members wished the same back to the police and the dozens of reporters who swarmed them as they walked the streets and then rested briefly in the shade.”
All in all, it doesn’t seem that there were many open carriers at the RNC, but as this story from qz.com points out, they were noticeable.
“If you don’t use your freedom to defend your freedom, you will lose your freedom. I don’t need to carry a handgun. I choose to, because I have the right to,” said Richard Morrell, a maintenance worker from San Antonio, Texas, in the story.
The story says Morrell was carrying a 9mm Smith & Wesson on his hip. He added, “If you disarm your citizens, only the bad guys are going to have guns. Then you also have a government who has guns—and citizens who do not. And then you are subject to a tyrannical government. It keeps the Republic in place.”
Individuals from all over the nation joined the Minutemen to exercise their rights and support Donald Trump for President. Steven Kurik, 25, traveled from rural Pennsylvania where he says he carried a concealed firearm every day. He had his Glock pistol in a drop-leg holster when interviewed by qz.com, and wearing a “Hillary for Prison 2016” t-shirt. Where he lives, he says, it could take authorities as long as two hours to get to him in case of an emergency.
“We use them to protect ourselves,” he said in the story, adding that he’s never had to fire at a person.
While emotions have flared inside the convention already, so far, there have been no reports of violence among the various protesters, armed or otherwise, outside the RNC, whose numbers are far lower than expected.