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Open Carry Laws Present Security Issue At Cleveland Convention

A view of downtown Cleveland, where the Republican National Convention is being held this week.
Erik Drost/Flickr Creative Commons

Don't try to bring a tennis ball, bicycle lock, or sleeping back into the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week—they're all on a list of items prohibited within the event zone. Guns, however? Those are okay.

That's because the state's "open carry" laws legally allow anyone to bring a gun, including rifles and long guns, into public spaces.

In the days leading up to the convention, the head of Cleveland's police union asked Ohio governor John Kasich to suspend those laws temporarily. According to the L.A. Times, police were concerned 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." Kasich refused.

Juliette Kayyem, homeland security expert and host of the "Security Mom" podcast, believes that states with open carry laws should be prohibited from hosting future events requiring federal funding for security (also known as National Special Security Events, or NSSEs.)

"It seems to me that the federal government should no longer designate an NSSE for any state with open carry, because it's the Secret Service that are going to get killed, or the local or state police," said Kayyem.

Having multiple armed people at a crisis scene can be confusing for first responders, Kayyem said, and makes it difficult to know who to pursue as a suspect.

Kayyem said the recent violent deaths of police officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas suggests the "good guys with guns" defense of widespread gun ownership is flawed.

"I think the idea that a heavily armed population...will stop the bad guys from doing bad things will now be put to rest. These were armed police officers that got killed," Kayyem said.

To hear more from Juliette Kayyem, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.

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