Fact Check

Republican Party Declares Their Convention a 'Gun-Free Zone'

The Republican Party has not declared their national convention to be a "gun-free zone"; rather, the venue hosting the event has a "no weapons" policy.

Published Jun 23, 2016

The Republican Party has hypocritically declared their national convention to be a "gun-free zone."

Back in April 2015, rumors swirled on the Internet holding that the National Rifle Association had ironically (or hypocritically, depending upon one's point of view) banned the carrying of guns at their national convention. The rumors were false, however: the scuttlebutt was based on the fact that one of the auxiliary convention venues was private one that had its own rules prohibiting the possession of firearms,

In a similar vein, on 19 June 2016, the web site Occupy Democrats published an article reporting that the Republican Party had "[hypocritically]" declared the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC), to be held in Cleveland, Ohio, a "gun-free zone":

Following the tsunami of murder apology and rampant Islamophobia issuing from America’s far right-wing in the wake of the horrific massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, we thought it was a fitting moment to remind the nation of the fact that the Republican Party will not be allowing guns at their national convention.

Yes, that’s right, the same political party whose obstinate refusal to consider even the most commonsense gun reform that would even amount to a minor inconvenience to gun owners has lead to the epidemic of gun violence which leaves around 300 Americans shot every day will not be allowing their beloved Second Amendment to be exercised at their convention. The same party that blames “gun free zones” and a lack of concealed carry laws for mass shootings is making their convention a gun-free zone.

This is ostensibly on the orders of the Secret Service, but the hypocrisy is truly unreal. They push for guns to be brought into every aspect of life — schools, the movie theater, grocery store, coffee shops — but refuse to have them at their own convention. This fact has not been lost on their supporters, 55,000 of whom have signed a petition demanding that they be allowed to bear their arms at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

Occupy Democrats linked to a petition calling for guns to be permitted inside Quicken Loans Arena (the venue hosting the RNC), but cited no other information documenting that the Republican Party "refuses to have [guns] at their own convention."

We called several RNC planning officials but were not able to make contact with any of them via phone by press time. However, two web sites dedicated to RNC planning and attendance hosts official convention and venue guides with details for attendees and press. One such document, the RNC's Spring Media Walk-Through Guide, referenced "Prohibited Items" on page 26. Among selfie sticks, wi-fi disruptors, air horns, flashlights, sealed envelopes, drones, flashlights, and multi-tools, the list of prohibited items also includes guns and all other weapons or weapons replicas. However, a key bit of language in the guide conflicts with Occupy Democrats' assertions: "Prohibited items within the Quicken Loans Arena and the FirstMerit Convention Center include ..." The Republican Party hasn't chosen "not to allow guns" at their national convention; they have no say-so in the matter because the selected convention site (as is common with most venues capable of hosting large-scale events) has established rules expressly prohibiting the possession of any type of weapon (including guns) from event held on their premises.

A quick check of the web site for the Quicken Loans Arena verifies that it is the venue itself, not the Republican Party, whose policies will prohibit guns (along with a laundry list of other common and seemingly innocuous items, such as selfie sticks) at the RNC:


Occupy Democrats' headline for their article (which appeared just days after a mass shooting in Orlando) was also misleading in stating that Republicans had "just" declared the RNC a "gun-free zone," suggesting that the purported declaration was a novel and recent turn of events. However, the RNC guide that includes a list of items prohibited at the convention venue was published on 6 April 2016, months prior to the Orlando shooting and the Occupy Democrats article.

Attributing the no-gun policy to the Republican Party is highly misleading, as it would be incredibly difficult to locate a venue of comparable size that does not have a "no weapons" policy. Republicans, like everyone else, are bound to follow the rules of any venues hosting their events.


Taylor, Colin.   "HYPOCRISY: Republicans Just Made Their Convention a Gun-Free Zone for Their Own Safety."     Occupy Democrats.   19 June 2016.

Republican National Convention.   "Spring Media Walk-Through."     6 April 2016.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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