Gun rights supporters angry over the no firearms policy at this year's Republican National Convention in Cleveland — or someone claiming to be them — have taken to the internet to voice their discontent.
Quicken Loans Arena has prohibited firearms at this year's event in July, citing its right to disallow guns on private property despite the state's open-carry law. But nearly 25,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org advocating for the venue to "recognize our constitutional right to open carry firearms" at the convention.
"Cleveland, Ohio is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 most dangerous cities in America," the petition's creators write. "By forcing attendees to leave their firearms at home, the RNC and Quicken Loans Arena are putting tens of thousands of people at risk both inside and outside of the convention site."
"This doesn't even begin to factor in the possibility of an ISIS terrorist attack on the arena during the convention," they add. "Without the right to protect themselves, those at the Quicken Loans Arena will be sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life."
But even if it started as satire, it's taken on a life of its own. Guns.com reports Ohio Carry president Brett Pucillo, a real firearms activist, formally endorsed the petition.
His group "would love to see this petition take off and the RNC to allow law abiding citizens to carry at the event," Pucillo said.
Because what else could go wrong, right?
This year's convention is expected to be especially combative. The rise of presidential front-runner Donald Trump, whose bigoted statements about various minorities and women have alarmed senior members of the party, means there will very likely be a contested convention in Ohio this year. Further, if Trump were to fail to secure the 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination outright, party leaders could trigger a battle over who to nominate.
A contested convention could easily get ugly — especially if the party changes convention rules in order to make a candidate who has not won enough states eligible for the nomination, such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. That could easily create the perception that RNC leadership is acting undemocratically to steal the nomination from Trump, who currently leads by hundreds of delegates and would likely enjoy popular support in the event of a convention fight.
Couple that with the numerous accounts of violence at Trump rallies, and you're left with a heated situation that probably doesn't need firearms added into the mix.
According to WEWS, the ultimate decision on whether firearms will be allowed into Quicken Loans Arena may not rest with the venue's management or the RNC, but with the Secret Service. The agency told the news station that Title 18 United States Code Sections 3056 and 1752 gives them "authority to preclude firearms from entering sites visited by our protectees, including those located in open-carry states."
The Secret Service clarified Monday that — petition or no petition — firearms would remain strictly forbidden at the convention. "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," Secret Service spokesman Robert K. Hoback said in a statement, the Washington Post reported.
Jon Levine contributed to this story.
March 29, 2016, 11:10 a.m.: This story has been updated.