Cleveland police union leader calls for suspending open-carry gun law during GOP convention

LA Times – by James Queally

The head of Cleveland’s police union said Sunday he would ask Ohio Gov. John Kasich to suspend open-carry gun rights for a week after several police officers were gunned down in Baton Rouge, La.

“It’s a heartbreaking day,” said union president Steven Loomis. The union’s attorneys are also asking Kasich to declare a state of emergency in the city during the Republican National Convention, which begins Monday.  

But a spokesperson for Kasich said he lacks legal authority to do what the union asked.

“Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested,” said spokesperson Emmalee Kalmbach.

Loomis repeatedly said he was not “against the 2nd Amendment,” but that recent killings of police in Dallas and Louisiana, combined with volatile confrontations that could occur outside the convention, will create situations that are too risky for city police.

Under the law in Ohio and many other states, people have a legal right to openly carry rifles and other long guns. As a result, although police have prohibited a wide variety of items from the protest zone near the conventions — tennis balls, water pistols, chains and practically anything else that could be used as a weapon — they can’t ban guns.

Officers will have to take extra precautions around anyone who chooses to carry a rifle, which might distract them from necessary law enforcement actions, Loomis said.

Kasich should be able to enact an executive order, Loomis said, because firearms are already banned inside the “hard security zone” along the immediate perimeter of the convention site.

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