Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Liz Miller
Observer Staff Writer 

Open Carry is like Yelling Fire in a Theater

Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association Calls for Suspension of Rights During RNC


July 24, 2016

Sunday's shooting in Baton Rouge began when two police officers approached a man who was openly carrying two rifles.

In the United States, open carry refers to the practice of "openly carrying a firearm in public", as distinguished from concealed carry, where firearms cannot be seen by the casual observer.

The practice of open carry, where gun owners openly carry firearms while they go about their daily business, has seen an increase in the U.S. in recent years--Wikipedia.

Stephen Loomis, President of Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association (CPPA), has asked the governor of the state to temporarily restrict the state's gun laws during the Republican National Convention.

Police departments across the country are on heightened alert in light of the shooting that killed three officers in Louisiana on Sunday.

"We are sending a letter to Gov. Kasich requesting assistance from him. He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something -- I don't care if it's constitutional or not at this point," Loomis told CNN.

Ohio's "open carry" laws allow any licensed gun owner to openly carry any firearm not specifically banned by the state, except in a few very limited secure zones. The RNC site, Quicken Loans Arena, is a secure zone, but licensed owners can legally have any or many guns and rifles in the streets and parks surrounding the arena.

Governor John Kasich has stated that he does not have the authority to arbitrarily suspend either federal or state constitutions or laws for any reason.

With big crowds of both supporters and demonstrators expected in Cleveland this week, Loomis called it irresponsible to be in the convention area with a weapon. He compared it to screaming "fire" in a crowded theater, and warned that officers would be "looking very, very hard" at anyone with a firearm.

First Amendment free speech protections do not extend to someone who falsely and intentionally creates a situation of panic and danger, such as yelling "fire" in a theater, but SCOTUS has never ruled on weather Second Amendment rights can be limited with that same reasoning.

Loomis's request may not be legally possible, but it is based on a very real concern.

A number of groups have scheduled marches or rallies around the convention, including Citizens for Trump and Black on Black Crime, Inc., a decades-old organization that has recently demonstrated alongside Black Lives

Matter protestors. Large gatherings and clashes between groups could offer cover for an attack on either citizens or law enforcement.

Republican national convention will probably include open carry as part of the party platform.

Hoping to increase individual safety, the CPPA has asked that the Cleveland Police Department not station any officer alone without the protection of a vehicle. They also want all foot officers to be assigned in groups of three, to offer one another support.

Police Chief Calvin Williams, has not yet responded to these requests.


LAPD Chief Charlie Beck informed his force on Sunday that some new protocols would go into effect out of concern for officer safety:

- All 911 calls in Los Angeles will now be "carefully screened" to avoid ruse calls meant to lure police into a trap.

- Officers formerly on crime suppression detail will be shifted to patrol backup, so as to increase the number of cars arriving in response to all calls or stops.

- Available air support will be doubled


Reader Comments

JeffNH writes:

Not the first time a progressive has used - yelling fire in a crowded theater - to justify a call to suppress civil rights. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes coined the phrase in the supreme court decision limiting free speech where he used this in his decision in U.S. v. Schenck. In that case, the court was deciding whether a citizen could be convicted of espionage for distributing a pamphlet expressing opposition to the draft in Word War I. There was no call to violence - no shouts of fire but that did not stop the progressive hero from deciding to suppress free speech. In 1969, the Supreme Court's decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio overturned this monstrosity. The fact that you or others feel 'triggered' in seeing a weapon does not justify your call for the use of force against those who are peacefully exercising their rights.


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