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Secret Service: No Guns at Republican Convention

  • VOA News

FILE - In this photo taken Feb. 26, 2016, Lance Toland, the owner of Lance Toland Associates, an aviation insurance company with three offices in Georgia, holds a Taurus revolver, in Atlanta.

FILE - In this photo taken Feb. 26, 2016, Lance Toland, the owner of Lance Toland Associates, an aviation insurance company with three offices in Georgia, holds a Taurus revolver, in Atlanta.

The Secret Service says only authorized law enforcement will be allowed to carry firearms at the Republican Party nominating convention, ignoring an online petition calling for convention attendees to also be permitted to carry them.

The petition, started anonymously last week on Change.org, has attracted the signatures of over 50,000 people who said they want the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, which is hosting the convention, to reverse its ban on weapons.

The Secret Service, which is responsible for security at the July event, said in a statement that only "authorized law enforcement partners...may carry a firearm inside of the protected site."

"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 statement added.

The three remaining Republican U.S. presidential candidates have each advocated allowing people to openly carry firearms. Both Texas Senator Ted Cruz and businessman Donald Trump have criticized so-called gun-free zones, especially schools, saying those policies make the sites less safe.

Trump said in December he would abolish gun-free zones on his first day in office, while Cruz told supporters in December the zones only create places where an attacker knows people will be unarmed. Ohio Governor John Kasich last year eliminated gun-free zones at the state's National Guard facilities.

The petition says the candidates should call on the Cleveland arena to suspend its no-gun policy, for the National Rifle Association to condemn it, and for Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus to be ready to relocate the entire convention if guns are not allowed.

The petition was created by the shadowy username "N A" and satirizes language used by gun rights supporters and Republicans.

"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 the convention site," it says.

The petition cites the threat of an Islamic State attack, saying that without guns, those inside the arena will be "utterly helpless against evil-doers." It also references President Barack Obama with derogatory emphasis on his middle name, Hussein, in bold letters mimicking the language of those who have not been happy to have him as their president during the past seven years.

Many of those sharing the petition on Twitter are clearly not interested in the issue for reasons of defending 2nd Amendment rights to firearms, but rather to push the Republican Party on its longtime adherence to the issue.

Firearms were also banned at the previous Republican convention, which was held in Tampa, Florida in 2012.

There are already concerns that this year's convention will be testier than usual, especially if no Republican presidential candidate has emerged as the party's nominee.

In particular, Trump has warned that his supporters may riot if a contested convention resulted in him not becoming the party's nominee.

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