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U.S. Secret Service: Absolutely no guns at GOP convention, petition or no petition

By Doug G. Ware
U.S. Secret Service: Absolutely no guns at GOP convention, petition or no petition
A U.S. Secret Service agent monitors the crowd while Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters at a 'Get Out the Vote' event at the Chicago Journeyman Plumber's Hall in Chicago on March 14, 2016. Monday, the agency said no firearms will be allowed at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer, no matter how many advoctes sign a petition demanding otherwise. Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, March 28 (UPI) -- There will not be any firearms allowed inside Quicken Loans Arena at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this summer -- regardless of how many people demand otherwise, the U.S. Secret Service reiterated Monday.

The Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting the GOP and Democratic presidential candidates, made the emphatic statement on Monday, following a weekend of multiple petitions surfacing online asking candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to eliminate the service's planned "gun free zone" inside the convention venue between July 18-21.

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For about a week, advocates have been pressing a petition demanding the right to carry firearms at the event. Monday, the protective agency restated that there will be no guns -- and no exceptions.

"The Secret Service works closely with our local law enforcement partners in each state to ensure a safe environment for our protectees and the public," the Secret Service statement said, citing a federal law that provides the agency with the authority to ban firearms. "Individuals determined to be carrying firearms will not be allowed past a predetermined outer perimeter checkpoint."

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Some Republican supporters have expressed concern over not being allowed to carry guns into the convention hall, citing the Constitution's Second Amendment, which grants the right to bear arms.

A petition at change.org, which had accumulated more than 46,000 e-signatures by Monday afternoon, criticizes the Secret Service's plan because Ohio is an "open carry" state.

"This is a direct affront to the Second Amendment and puts all attendees at risk," it reads. "As the National Rifle Association has made clear, 'gun-free zones' such as the Quicken Loans Arena are 'the worst and most dangerous of all lies.'"

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The Secret Service, though, says that right doesn't supersede its need to protect the GOP candidates -- particularly Donald Trump, who has seen some violent clashes at rallies this year.

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In its statement, the service said it has "authority to preclude firearms from entering sites visited by our protectees, including those located in open-carry states."

"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," it continued, noting that anyone carrying a firearm will be turned away regardless of whether they are ticketed or credentialed for the event.

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Supporters of the petition say the Secret Service's no-gun policy puts attendees of the convention at risk, particularly in a city like Cleveland.

"Cleveland, Ohio is consistently ranked as one of the top ten most dangerous cities in America. 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," the petition, started by "Americans for Responsible Open Carry," states.

The petition is now attributed to the person who authored it, who has the name The Hyperationalist

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"This doesn't even begin to factor in the possibility of an ISIS terrorist attack on the arena during the convention. Without the right to protect themselves, those at the Quicken Loans Arena will be sitting ducks.".

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Two of the remaining three GOP presidential candidates, though, appear to have backed the Secret Service's position on the matter.

"All that matters is what the Secret Service says," Kasich said Monday. "When they tell you not to do something, you don't do it. It's for your interest. And the Secret Service is very important in these decisions."

"At the convention, the Secret Service is going to have the principal decision-making concerning security," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a staunch supporter of "open carry" laws, said. "You would certainly want to get the recommendation from Secret Service -- how to maintain security for everyone."

Trump, though, said he needs more information before deciding which side he supports.

"I have to see what it says," he told ABC News' This Week on Sunday. "I'm a very, very strong person for Second Amendment. I think very few people are stronger. And I have to see the petition. But I'm not going to comment to you when I haven't seen it."

"The Republican Party has been and will continue to be a staunch supporter of the 2nd amendment. It is in our Platform and is strongly supported by our candidates," RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement. "The Republican National Convention is a National Special Security Event, which means the Secret Service is the lead agency and we will defer to their planning as it relates to safety and security of the Convention."

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The Secret Service has not allowed firearms at any recent nominating conventions, including the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., in 2012.

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