As Cleveland prepares for the Republican National Convention, there are serious questions and concerns about how Ohio’s open carry law will affect the work of police officers charged with protecting public safety during the expected protests. Under Ohio law, people can openly carry guns in public without a permit or safety training. The law even prevents cities like Cleveland from adopting their own common-sense public safety protections.
Sadly, these questions have become more urgent after last week’s mass shooting of five police officers in Dallas where, in the moments after gunfire rang out, police officers struggled to distinguish between people legally carrying guns and the gunman who had opened fire.
As the situation showed, the dangers posed by open-carry laws are not merely hypothetical. Although the vast majority of gun owners are responsible, open-carry laws give cover to people like the Dallas gunman and make it harder for police to do their jobs.
The elevation of open carry demonstrations and behavior, despite opposition from law enforcement and business owners, is a direct result of NRA’s agenda of guns everywhere for anyone, no questions asked. The NRA once called open carry “weird” and “scary” before walking those comments back. Donald Trump and his presumptive VP pick Mike Pence have firmly embraced this guns everywhere agenda. It’s a dangerous worldview that one must be armed to the teeth in everyday life – and one Everytown for Gun Safety has repeatedly and successfully opposed in statehouses across the country.
In addition, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown, has a history of success working with corporations to adopt gun sense policies. After hearing from Moms, major companies like Target, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and many more have all enacted policies that ask customers and employees to leave their firearms at home.
With public attention now shifting to the RNC, we wanted to shed some light on the troubling reality of open-carry and show how people can get involved in pushing back against this culture. I’m putting some background information below, and I would be happy to connect you with our policy experts here for more.
Don’t hesitate to reach out.
Examples of Open Carry Posing a Threat to Public Safety:
- As we have seen so horrifically in Dallas, open carry is dangerous. The police chief and mayor have said law enforcement couldn’t tell who was the “good guy with a gun” and who was the “bad guy with a gun” because it is legal to walk around with an AR-15 on your back.
- In October 2015 in Colorado, where open carry is legal, a gunman killed three people. Before the shooting, a neighbor saw the gunman openly carrying a firearm down the street and called 911, but because the behavior was legal under state law, police did not immediately respond.
- Although the leader of the group Open Carry Texas told the AP “they haven’t caused any panic among civilians,” we have seen instances in which open-carry protestors have indeed prompted local concern:
- In Texas, Kory Watkins, a leader of the open carry movement, posted this video on his Facebook page showcasing open carry proponents harassing Texas lawmaker and gun owner Poncho Nevarez because he refuses to support the permitless open carry of handguns. In response to the confrontation, the Texas House approved rules to be able to install panic buttons and eject hostile members of the public from their offices.
- Also in Texas, C.J. Grisham, the leader of Open Carry Texas (OCT), led an armed-walk in Port Arthur, Texas, to protest Police Chief Mark Blanton for his opposition to open carry expansion.
- As documented in The Atlantic, a group of armed open-carry demonstrators showed up at a meeting of Moms of Demand Action for Gun Sense in America in a Kentucky public library, prompting two mothers who had brought children with them to leave.
- The presence of firearms turns everyday disputes deadly. In a census of nearly 100 shooting on school property that occurred in the past two years, one-third of the incidents resulted when an argument escalated and a firearm was available and discharged.
The Gun Lobby’s ‘Guns Everywhere’ Agenda:
- The gun lobby has pushed an extremist, guns everywhere, for anyone, with no questions asked agenda and we are seeing the natural outgrowth of those policies in the open carry debate.
- For example, Texas recently passed a law that allows permit-holders to carry handguns openly in public, as well as concealed.
- And just last year, the NRA supported legislation that would remove the requirement that person get a permit to open carry in Tennessee, allowing people to openly carry in public with permit, training, or criminal record check. Thanks to the work of the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action, the bill did not pass.
- Additionally, the NRA has made attempts to restrict private property owners’ rights to prohibit guns on their property.
- In Georgia, the infamous gun lobby-backed “guns everywhere” law, HB 60, chipped away at private property owners’ ability to restrict firearms on their property.
- In Montana in 2014, gun lobby-backed politicians attempted to pass HB 598, a bill that would have inflicted similar restrictions on private property owners. The bill ultimately did not pass, in part due to NorthWestern Energy’s opposition to the bill.
- In Texas in 2015, HB 910 required that businesses comply with onerous signage requirements if they want to prohibit handguns on their property. They must now post two signs if they want to prohibit open and concealed carry. The signs so large that many businesses simply do not have enough room on their storefronts.