Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s office rebuffed a call Sunday from the Cleveland police union to ban the open carry of firearms during the Republican National Convention, in the wake of the deadly shooting of police officers in Baton Rouge.
FOX 8 reported earlier that Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, is asking Kasich to prohibit open carry this week in Cuyahoga County, which surrounds Cleveland.
A spokeswoman, though, indicated the governor’s hands are tied when it comes to unilaterally changing a state law like open carry.
“Law enforcement is a noble, essential calling and we all grieve that we’ve again seen attacks on officers. Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested,” Kasich spokeswoman Emmalee Kalmbach said. “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.”
Convention CEO Jeff Larson, at a press briefing in Cleveland late Sunday, echoed the governor’s office.
“The governor can’t simply say, I’m going to relax [the law] for a day,” Larson said.
The shooting in Baton Rouge – in which at least three officers were killed – is the latest police tragedy to heighten concerns about security and clashes at the GOP convention, which starts Monday.
According to USA Today, Loomis said the open-carry law has made security far more difficult for the convention.
“Somebody’s got to do something,” Loomis reportedly said Sunday. “What we have now is completely irresponsible.”
City leaders have voiced confidence about their ability to secure the site.
Police Chief Calvin Williams said Sunday that they’ve had protests every day for eight days and all have been peaceful.
“We’ve not really had any problems to speak of,” he said.
As for the open-carry law, he said he has briefed officers who may not be familiar with the state’s law. He said he wants to “make sure officers are not taken aback when they see that activity” and know how to respond.
Williams said he also is briefing officers on the responsibilities someone must maintain when exercising their open-carry rights, saying people have to handle their guns in a “safe manner” and should not “menace people or threaten people” with their weapon.
As for the convention itself, he said, “It’s game time and we’re ready for it.” Williams said they have “hundreds of agencies and thousands of officers” working to keep people safe.