Meet the Man Petitioning to Get Guns at the RNC
It was hard to tell at first whether a hugely popular Change.org petition calling for Quicken Loans Arena to allow open carry of firearms at July’s Republican National Convention was serious.
In the kind of language an ardent defender of the Second Amendment might use, its author laid out his case: Ohio is an open-carry state, the GOP has been a champion of expanding gun rights generally, and the three remaining presidential candidates have repeatedly railed against “gun-free zones” like the one that the arena’s strict “no firearm” policy creates specifically.
The petition was signed and circulated online by both earnest gun rights supporters and advocates for gun control, who seemed delighted by the idea of Republicans having to reckon with the policies they’ve propagated. Change.org itself seemed confused — in a statement to The Guardian Monday, a spokesperson for the website said the petition was not satire.
Rolling Stone spoke to the petition’s author, Jim, who asked not to share his last name after receiving some frightening messages in connection to the petition. He says the petition is, in fact, earnest — but that doesn’t mean that he’s a big Second Amendment guy. He isn’t.
“I’m 100 percent genuine in my belief that they should be able to have guns at their convention,” he says. “It’s consistent with state law, and if people who go to movie theaters and malls and shopping places and restaurants have the quote-unquote ‘protection’ of the open carrying citizens around them, well, I think the GOP should have the same.”
Jim says he’s in his late 30s and was born in St. Louis, but now lives on the West Coast. He works in public health. He’s a Democrat.
He doesn’t claim the petition idea is original — similar arguments have been made about past political conventions and NRA gatherings — but he says there was something about the idea of this year’s potentially contested convention that seemed to bring Republican arguments for open carry into stark relief.
Open carry would be particularly bad idea this year, wouldn’t it? “Or is it a particularly good idea?” Jim shoots back. “If you use their logic, it is all the more vital that they have guns this year than any other year in the past. There is no argument against guns at the convention if you think that’s the safest thing for everybody else. I’m fighting for their rights by taking them at face value.”