These Republicans came to the convention armed with handguns and AK-74s
‘It’s open, so it would only take a few steps to make it loaded’
The Republican convention is in Cleveland. Cleveland is in Ohio. And Ohio is an “open carry state” – meaning that anyone who fancies can openly carry weapons around the city as the party chooses its nominee.
Yesterday, following the killing of three police officers in Baton Rouge, police union bosses in Cleveland asked for the city’s open carry rules to be suspended. Their request was denied.
After hours of looking, The Tab found a few people who brought guns to Cleveland, beginning at an America First rally.
The park holding the event is filled with bikers in leather vests, American flag bandanas, and the event’s most popular t-shirt, which is emblazoned with a huge slogan reading: “Hillary for prison”.
Jan Morgan is a self-styled Second Amendment activist, who we meet after she finishes a rousing speech saying she was willing to die for Donald Trump.
She has a pistol with a pearl grip tucked into her waistband, alongside two clips in case she needs extra bullets.
“It’s a Sig P238 with seven rounds, I’ve got two mags here holding seven rounds each. That’s just the one you can see. I’ve got another you can’t see with 16 rounds.”
We look her up and down to try and spot it. “That’s my business. It’s hidden for a reason,” she says.
“I carry for self-defence. I’m not going to hide it. This is not a political statement, it’s a safety measure.”
We ask why she’s packing heat, and she explains: “People who open carry are not easy targets. Bad guys with guns will go after someone who is disarmed. I prefer bad guys to see me carrying and know I’m not someone they want to mess with.”
Does she sleep with a gun under her pillow? “There are firearms around me at all times. Have you seen Mr and Mrs Smith? That’s my house.”
She moves on to talk to one of her fans, and we spot Ben, a young computer engineer from Dayton, Ohio, who has taken an assault rifle to the rally.
He’s sitting on the grass wearing a Trump hat, a Hillary for Prison t-shirt, and has a weapon strapped to his backpack that was originally designed for the Soviet Army.
“It’s an AK-74,” he tells us, adding it’s just one of four guns he owns. “I’ve had it about four years. I brought it here for a political statement.”
Is it loaded?
“It’s open, so it would only take a few steps to make it loaded.”
Every American has the right to have a gun, he says. “It’s fun.”
Next we find Shane and Matt, two enormous men in Ronald Reagan t-shirts, handing out chilled bottles of Gatorade to on-duty cops.
“It’s our day off work, so we decided to help out all our brothers in blue.”
We ask about the move to ban open carry in Cleveland for the convention, and Shane says: “The Police Union Chief asked for it, and it didn’t go through. If it was going to happen, we wouldn’t have carried. But it didn’t, so we decided to open carry today.”
Standing nearby is Merlin, sporting reflective sunglasses and a Colt .45 holstered in his shoulder.
“I carry it every day. I hope I never have to use it for my entire life, I carry it for protection.”
Talking about the state of emergency proposed by the Cleveland Police Union Chief on the weekend, he says: “We’re in such numbers, he can’t do anything about it. You can’t change the laws just because of the convention.
“It’s the Second Amendment, you can’t take it away. Most people who carry guns don’t have criminal history, we’re nice people.”
He tells us he’s on the Trump Train. “I think he’s got a really good chance. We want freedom in America.”