CLEVELAND, Ohio–The leader of one of Cleveland’s largest police unions is calling for a suspension of the state’s open carry gun laws in the city during the Republican National Convention in the wake of a shooting in Baton Rouge that left three police officers wounded and three dead.
“We are sending a letter to Gov. Kasich requesting assistance from him. 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,” Stephen Loomis, president of Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, told CNN. “They can fight about it after the RNC or they can lift it after the RNC, but I want him to absolutely outlaw open-carry in Cuyahoga County until this RNC is over.”
Loomis also told CNN that law enforcement would be stepping up inspections of anyone who is holstering a weapon in the downtown area.
“We are going to be looking very, very hard at anyone who has an open carry,” he said. “An AR-15, a shotgun, multiple handguns. It’s irresponsible of those folks — especially right now — to be coming downtown with open carry AR’s or anything else. I couldn’t care less if it’s legal or not. We are constitutional law enforcement, we love the Constitution, support it and defend it, but you can’t go into a crowded theater and scream fire. And that’s exactly what they’re doing by bringing those guns down there.”
Ohio allows licensed firearm owners to wear holstered firearms in public except in “secure zone” areas around the RNC Convention site at Quicken Loans Arena. Legal firearm owners can walk around the city within the 1.7 square mile regulated “event zone” with any firearm not banned by the state.
However, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams reminded reporters earlier in the week that open carry does not mean an individual can brandish their weapon or threaten someone with their firearm.
“We want to make sure that people that are open-carrying understand that there are going to be law enforcement officers watching you,” Williams said. “We don’t want to impede on your ability to [carry], but you’re going to be closely monitored during that time period that you are carrying a gun in Cleveland.”
Kasich, responding to the union, said, “Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested.”
He added, “The bonds between our communities and police must be reset and rebuilt — as we’re doing in Ohio — so our communities and officers can both be safe. Everyone has an important role to play in that renewal,” he said.