Leave it to those humorless, sunglasses-wearing, sleeve-talking killjoys at the U.S. Secret Service to take all the fun out of a political convention.
The Secret Service, which is responsible for safety at designated National Special Security Events such as political conventions, has ruled that no firearms will be allowed inside the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland when the Republican National Convention is gaveled to order in July. (Except theirs, of course.)
If you’re scratching your head and thinking, “duh,” you probably haven’t been keeping up with current events. There’s been violence at Donald Trump rallies, Trump’s campaign manager has been charged with battery and even our own U.S. Sen. Dean Heller has said he’s concerned about safety at the Republican convention.
Oh, and as of Tuesday afternoon, more than 51,000 people had signed a strident online petition on the website change.org, asking that people be allowed to openly carry firearms at the Republican convention.
“Though Ohio is an open-carry state, which allows for the open carry of guns, the hosting venue — the Quicken Loans Arena — strictly forbids the carry of firearms on their premises,” the petition explains. “This is a direct affront to the Second Amendment and puts all attendees at risk. As the National Rifle Association has made clear, ‘gun-free zones’ such as the Quicken Loans Arena are ‘the worst and most dangerous of all lies.’”
Theologians might argue that the worst and most dangerous of all lies was, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from [the tree of the knowledge of good and evil] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” But who’s to quibble?
The petition continues:
“By forcing attendees to leave their firearms at home, the [Republican National Committee] and Quicken Loans Arena are putting tens of thousands of people at risk both inside and outside of the convention site,” it reads. “This doesn’t even begin to factor in the possibility of an ISIS terrorist attack on the arena during the convention. Without the right to protect themselves, those at the Quicken Loans Arena will be sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life.”
And they didn’t even mention the evil-doers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life who will be inside the arena!
On Tuesday, CBS reporter Arden Farhi revealed the petition was actually the work of a self-described liberal Democrat named Jim who posted the document to see if pro-gun Republicans would embrace their oft-stated Second Amendment views when their own lives were on the line. It appears that many of them did.
Alas, the Secret Service said no, throwing cold water on Jim’s social experiment. Still, the clear implication seems to be that easy access to firearms combined with the passions of a political convention against the backdrop of an increasingly violent society is a bad thing. Isn’t the Secret Service really saying Republican convention-goers will be better off if they left their guns at home for once? (One of them told Farhi the decision to ban private individuals from carrying weapons at the convention was a “no-brainer.”)
Of course, many will say that things would be better if convention participants were armed and that the potential for violent incidents would decrease in that event. They’re more than happy to call Jim’s bluff and live by the open-carry rules they wish for the rest of us.
Which makes a person really, really thankful for the dedicated men and women of the U.S. Secret Service.
Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist and co-host of the show “PoliticsNOW,” airing at 5:30 p.m. Sundays on 8NewsNow. Read his blog at SlashPolitics.com, follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or SSebelius@reviewjournal.com.