The three remaining Republican U.S. presidential candidates have each advocated allowing people to openly carry firearms, and an online petition is challenging them to stand behind those policies and call for firearms to be allowed at the party's nominating convention in July.
Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena is hosting the convention, but has a policy banning any weapons from the facility. It is allowed to do so under law in the state of Ohio, where people can otherwise openly carry guns.
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 and presidential candidate John Kasich last year eliminated gun-free zones at the state's National Guard facilities.
More than 30,000 people have signed the Change.org petition that 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 been unhappy with his two terms as president.
What could possibly go wrong? MT “@HeathaT: 18,000 people have signed a petition to allow open carry at the Republican convention”— Dave Baldwin (@DaveBaldwinJax) March 26, 2016
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 challenge the Republican Party on its longtime adherence to the issue.
No matter how many signatures it gets, or whatever real support the call for open carry at the convention may get from legitimate gun rights supporters, there is little chance of seeing holsters as the go-to accessory at the convention.
Cleveland television station WEWS asked the U.S. Secret Service, which is in charge of security at both party's convention sites, and the answer was the same as in 2012 when guns were banned at the Republican convention. The station said the Secret Service cited U.S. law allowing it to "preclude firearms from entering sites visited by our protectees."