Open Carry At Republican National Convention: Why Not?


For a definition of Poe's Law, let's turn to RationalWiki: "It is an observation that it's difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between parodies of fundamentalism or other extreme views and their genuine proponents, since they both seem equally insane."

Thus, a liberal activist successfully trolled tens of thousands of Republicans, reporters and gun rights activists in late March when he posted a petition to demanding that attendees be allowed to carry guns at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

To be fair to those who were duped, the petition had all the hallmarks of a rant that might be posted by someone who spends his days listening to Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck.

There was the excessive use of the caps lock key, insistence that ISIS could be planning an attack on the convention, a quote from the National Rifle Association and a line that could have come straight out of a George W. Bush anti-terrorism speech. The latter insisted a gun ban would render Republican convention-goers "utterly helpless against evil-doers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life."

As of April 1, the petition has racked up more than 53,000 signatures, and media coverage in outlets like CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times initially took it at face value.

A story on Vox took the bait hook, line and sinker, saying the petition proves tens of thousands of Americans "think it's a good idea to let everyone carry guns at the GOP convention."

It turns out the petition was satire, the work of a man named Jim who goes by the online handle Hyperationalist (or Hypernationalist, according to Vox). Jim tells CBS News he created the petition to point out the hypocrisy of gun-rights advocates who respond to every violent event by claiming victims wouldn't be victims if they were carrying guns.

"I take them at their word," Jim said. "[Open carry is] a state law in Ohio. I don't want them to have a terrible event happen [at the convention] and then say if it hadn't been a gun-free zone, fewer people would have died."

While some petition supporters are in on the joke, some took it at face value, so much so that the three Republican presidential candidates were dogged by questions about it during the last week of March.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump responded to the petition by pointing to his Second Amendment credentials, then said he'd consider the petition.

“I want to read the fine print," Trump told ABC's Jon Karl in a March 27 interview. "I have to see what it says."

Republican presidential candidates Sen Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio both deferred to the Secret Service when asked about the petition.

In a tersely-worded statement, Secret Service spokesman Robert K. Hoback said, "Only authorized law enforcement personnel working in conjunction with the Secret Service for a particular event may carry a firearm inside of the protected site," The Washington Post reports.

Of course, it was no coincidence that Hyperationalist's petition quoted Cruz when he blamed President Barack Obama for the San Bernardino shooting that claimed nine lives on Dec. 2, 2015.

"If you're a lunatic ain't nothing better than having a bunch of targets you know that are going to be unarmed," Cruz said, per CBS.

The Secret Service will never allow convention-goers to carry guns for a variety of completely logical reasons. It's their job to make sure no one gets hurt, and the feds have a long and reliable history of keeping people safe in public gatherings like political conventions.

But as a thought exercise, a morbidly curious what-if, why not allow all 40,000 attendees pack heat?

The GOP could blast the theme song from "Team America: World Police" over the arena's PA system, and when the terrorist ninjas come rappelling down from the stadium rafters, waving ISIS flags and chanting "Death to America," we'd finally get to see how the NRA's theoretical perfect situation -- in which every potential victim has a gun -- would work out.

Something tells me it wouldn't, and maybe that would settle the debate once and for all.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: ABC News, CBS News (2),, Vox, RationalWiki, The Washington Post / Photo credit: Paramount Pictures/Melinda Sue Gordon via The Washington Post

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