The slaying of eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge spurred the head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association (CPPA) to tell Fox News and CNN Sunday that he would send a letter to Ohio Gov. John Kasich asking him to issue a state of emergency and suspend the state’s ‘open carry’ law for the duration of the Republican National Convention, which began today. But before the letter was even typed, the governor’s office issued a statement saying Kasich cannot legally impose such an order:
“Law enforcement is a noble, essential calling and we all grieve that we’ve again seen attacks on officers,” the spokeswoman, Emmalee Kalmbach, said in a statement. “Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested. 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.”
But CPPA President Steve Loomis doesn’t care about legality:
“[Kasich] could very easily do some kind of executive order or something — I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point [...]
"Anybody that has an open-carry gun, we are going to look at and we are going to look at them very, very hard," Loomis said. "Somebody's gotta do something. What we have now is completely irresponsible."
Loomis also blamed President Obama for the attacks on police: "The president of the United States has blood on his hands and it will not be able to be washed off. How the hell did we become the bad guys in this country?"
Cleveland has placed a temporary ban on oh-so-dangerous tennis balls and bicycle locks in downtown Cleveland during the RNC, but if you legally own a firearm, you can show up and display it outside the arena where Donald Trump, other notable Republicans, and party delegates will appear.
It’s people like Loomis who spread hate and repeatedly vote into office politicians who allow open-carrying of military-style firearms in public places and other lethal idiocies, courtesy of the lobbyists of the extremist National Rifle Association. But despite his hypocrisy, he’s not wrong about wanting to keep civilians from carrying such weapons to public gatherings.
Even though unrestricted carrying of unconcealed firearms has long been the law in most states, it’s only been during recent years that there has been an upsurge of people openly carrying firearms to rallies, protests, and other public events. While most who decide to arm themselves in this way carry holstered pistols publicly, a few bring semi-automatic rifles—typically the popular AR-15 and its clones—with detachable magazines carrying 20 or more rounds of ammunition.
Such behavior is frankly loony, and as long as it persists, it’s easy to imagine even worse outcomes than occurred in Dallas and Baton Rouge. As officers discovered in Dallas July 7 while a sniper was murdering five officers and wounding seven others at the end of a peaceful protest against police slayings, it’s hard to distinguish who is a bad guy and who isn’t when numerous people are openly armed. Between 20 to 30 people were observed to be carrying rifles at the Dallas protest, and one of them was mistakenly identified by police, who tweeted his photo and the claim he was a “suspect” while the shooting was still going on. He wasn’t.
As for the idea that having heavily armed civilians show up at public events means a bad guy with a gun will be taken out before he can kill lots of good people, not one of the open carriers in Dallas fired a single shot at the sniper.
A few more such cop slayings like the ones in Texas and Louisiana, and we’ll likely see other police unions calling for a temporary suspension or permanent prohibition of open carry laws in their own jurisdictions.
Currently, 33 states allow unrestricted carrying of unconcealed firearms. Thirteen allow it with a permit, and the District of Columbia plus five states (California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and South Carolina) prohibit it in most circumstances. That offers many a chance for more killings like those we’ve recently witnessed.