COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Demonstrators at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next week can't have lasers, squirt guns or sledgehammers. But because Ohio is an open-carry gun state, those who are legally allowed to carry firearms can do so without a permit.
Some questions and answers about the rules for firearms during the four-day political shindig in Ohio, in light of the deadly ambush of police officers in Dallas and protests nationwide:
CAN PEOPLE OPENLY CARRY GUNS IN DOWNTOWN DURING THE CONVENTION?
It depends on their location. The Secret Service is responsible for a security perimeter that immediately surrounds the main convention site, Quicken Loans Arena, at the edge of downtown. Agents have prohibited guns inside the arena and the area immediately around it.
WHAT ABOUT OUTSIDE THAT ZONE?
Yes, guns are allowed. The city is charged with policing the large event zone outside of the space protected by the Secret Service. Ohio law allows protesters who are legally allowed to carry firearms to be in that event area with a holstered gun. But people are barred from inducing panic, disturbing the peace and violating other laws.
COULD PROTESTERS CARRY CONCEALED WEAPONS?
Yes, but they must have a permit. Ohio also has agreements with other states to recognize one another's concealed handgun licenses. Under state law, gun owners can't carry their firearms onto premises where posted signs inform them that such weapons are prohibited.
SO WHAT ARE THE PROHIBITED ITEMS IN THE EVENT ZONE?
Prohibited items in the event zone include drones, gas masks, lasers, sledgehammers, containers of bodily fluids, bottles, cans, thermoses, ladders, grappling hooks, canned goods and tennis balls. Squirt guns and pellet guns are prohibited, but not actual firearms.
WHAT HAVE GUN RIGHTS ADVOCATES SAID?
A leader of Ohio Carry, a gun-rights advocacy group, says he understands concerns police may have about guns being downtown. "That being said, we fully support the open carry law, we fully support the concealed carry law and we really have no qualms about people carrying be it at the RNC or not," said Eric Pucillo, vice president of the Kent-based group. He's advised gun owners to listen to their own conscience.
WHAT IS LAW ENFORCMENT SAYING?
Asked Wednesday by a reporter if he preferred that people not carry guns during the convention, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said, "Of course. But it's the law in this state and, as police chief, I'm bound to uphold the law in the state."
Associated Press writer Mark Gillispie contributed to this report from Cleveland.
Ohio's concealed handgun licensing law: http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/concealedcarry