What is 'open carry,' and why is Cleveland's police union against it?

Following the killing of three police officers in Baton Rouge on Sunday, the head of Cleveland's largest police union will be sending Ohio Gov. John Kasich a letter asking him to temporarily restrict the state's gun laws in Cuyahoga County while the Republican National Convention is underway there.

"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," Stephen Loomis, president of Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association, told CNN. "They can fight about it after the RNC or they can lift it after the RNC, but I want him to absolutely outlaw open-carry in Cuyahoga County until this RNC is over."

What are open carry laws and why is Loomis concerned about Cleveland?

Here’s a quick look at open carry laws and what they mean for polic 

What is “open carry?”

Open carry means there is no restriction on carrying firearms openly in most public places. 

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Where is that legal?

With the exception of eight states, the open carry of all legal firearms is allowed. Some states may require a permit or a license to do so.

Where is it banned?

California, Florida, Illinois and the District of Columbia prohibit the carrying of any firearm openly in public. New York and South Carolina prohibit the open carrying of a handgun, but not a long gun, such as a rifle. Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Jersey prohibit the open carrying of a long gun, but not a handgun.

Is there a federal law concerning open carry?

Open carry is not restricted by any federal law.  

What’s the rule in Ohio?

In Ohio, licensed firearm owners who do not have a felony record may carry their weapons – in plain sight  – in public. For the convention, there is a designated “secure zone” in and around the Quicken Loans Arena where the convention takes place. In that zone, the public is not allowed to openly carry guns. As for the rest of the city, citizens may carry weapons that are not banned by the state.

Why doesn’t the governor suspend the law – at least for the four days of the convention?

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he cannot suspend open carry laws because he does not have the authority to do so. “Ohio governors do not have the power to arbitrarily suspend federal and state constitutional rights or state laws as suggested. The bonds between our communities and police must be reset and rebuilt – as we're doing in Ohio – so our communities and officers can both be safe. Everyone has an important role to play in that renewal," he said.

In addition, Article 1 of the Ohio Constitution says, "No power of suspending laws shall ever be exercised, except by the general assembly."

What is the police union afraid will happen? 

In light of what has happened to police officers in Dallas and now Baton Rouge, the head of the union Stephen Loomis has expressed concern for the safety of  law enforcement officers. He also said he feels his officers don’t need the added stress of large numbers of armed people coming around the area of the Quicken Loans Arena.

"We are going to be looking very, very hard at anyone who has an open carry," Loomis said. "An AR-15, a shotgun, multiple handguns. It's irresponsible of those folks – especially right now – to be coming downtown with open carry AR's or anything else. I couldn't care less if it's legal or not. We are constitutional law enforcement, we love the Constitution, support it and defend it, but you can't go into a crowded theater and scream fire. And that's exactly what they're doing by bringing those guns down there."

 What  about Pennsylvania, the Democratic convention is there next week?

The law in Pennsylvania is a bit different from Ohio’s open carry law. In fact, there is no open carry law, per se. Pennsylvania law is silent  on whether it is Iegal to carry of a firearm openly, so since it doesn’t say it is illegal to do so, it is legal. However in cities deemed “first class” such as Philadelphia, you must have a license to carry openly.

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