The Republican National Convention kicks off on Monday in Cleveland, and there is widespread concern about the safety and security situation in the Northeast Ohio city.
This concern is appropriate, of course, given the random and senseless acts of violence we have seen in recent weeks, from Dallas to France and, now, Baton Rouge. There is always potential for violence when it comes to these large-scale events.
But right-wing gun laws in Ohio are adding unnecessary fuel to the already-raging fire of security threats.
Since the Buckeye State allows its citizens to openly carry firearms, people in the RNC event zone can roam the streets with guns strapped to their wastes or across their backs.
Tennis balls and sleeping bags are banned, though, so you’re out of luck if you planned on breaking into an impromptu tennis match or catching a nap outside of Progressive Field.
Your AR-15? Sure, that’s okay.
Despite the myths constantly perpetuated by the NRA and their right-wing servants, this makes everyone less safe – whether it’s protestors, Trump supporters, or law enforcement officials. Violence becomes more likely, not less.
It’s why the head of the Cleveland police union is now urging Ohio Gov. John Kasich to suspend the state’s open carry law in Cuyahoga County – where Cleveland is located – during the convention.
Of course, as Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has said, this suspension “would have happened by now” if it was going to happen at all.
As a result, many Clevelanders – and those who have sworn to protect them – will face an unnecessary and added level of danger.
The most interesting part of this is that Republicans claim to be the party of protecting police officers. With a despicable outburst of violence against cops in recent weeks, these right-wing proclamations have become even more frequent.
GOP standard-bearer and alleged billionaire Donald Trump now calls himself the “law and order candidate,” promising voters a “safe society” if they just send him to the White House.
This pandering rhetoric quickly disintegrates when actual facts are examined.
It is the Republican Party that has worked tirelessly to weaken gun laws and expand access to deadly firearms, even for suspected terrorists.
It is the GOP that has passed legislation to permit civilians to walk the streets with weapons of war – sometimes weapons more powerful than those carried by law enforcement officers.
It is Ohio’s own Republican governor that has cut funding crucial to making sure police departments are as prepared as they can be for anything that may come their way.
On this issue (among many others), the Republican Party does lots of talking and very little walking.
Donald Trump and Mike Pence – and the party they now lead – will likely reiterate their hollow love of police officers this week in Cleveland. They’ll also probably repeat the lie that Democrats are somehow anti-law enforcement.
But it is the actions of their own party that have made the work of law enforcement officials more dangerous than it should be.
The concerns over safety and violence at this year’s RNC are proof of that.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.