Firearms Will Be Allowed Near Republican National Convention, Prompting Security Alerts

As Milwaukee prepares to host the Republican National Convention (RNC) next month, Wisconsin’s open-carry and concealed-carry laws will allow attendees and locals to carry firearms in close proximity to the event. This has prompted city officials and law enforcement to stress the importance of responsible behavior, while the state has refused to create distance between protests and the convention equal to that provided to the Democrat National Convention (DNC).

Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman emphasized the need for caution at a press conference on Friday, outlining the security measures in place. “We respect the rights of individuals to carry firearms, but any threatening behavior will not be tolerated,” Norman stated. “It’s crucial that everyone adheres to safe practices to ensure the community’s safety.”

Chief Norman, who has been credited with reducing Milwaukee’s homicide rate by 40% in 2022, assured that there will be a secure perimeter around the convention venues, but outside this zone, the state’s gun laws will apply. The convention will be held at the Fiserv Forum, the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, and the Baird Center.

The security plan includes collaboration with the U.S. Secret Service, which is coordinating efforts to ensure the safety of delegates, guests, and the public. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle highlighted the importance of vigilance and cooperation between federal and local agencies.

The convention is expected to attract numerous demonstrators. Nick DeSiato, chief of staff for Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, confirmed that over a hundred groups have registered to protest during the event. The city has set up designated protest areas within “sight and sound” of the convention, and all applications for protest permits have been approved.

The decision to allow firearms near the convention has sparked debate, especially given Milwaukee’s recent violent incidents. On Thursday, police officers shot two teenagers, resulting in the death of an unborn baby, after a vehicle chase connected to carjacking incidents.

Governor Tony Evers has declared a state of emergency to facilitate enhanced security measures, including the potential deployment of the Wisconsin National Guard. Secret Service RNC Coordinator Audrey Gibson-Cicchino noted that ensuring the safety of all attendees while respecting constitutional rights is a top priority.

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2024 Presidential Election, is set to attend the convention. RNC spokesman Kush Desai emphasized the importance of balancing security with the right to free speech. “We are committed to providing a safe environment while upholding First Amendment rights,” Desai said.

As the RNC approaches, Milwaukee’s law enforcement and security agencies continue to prepare for a safe and orderly event, navigating the complexities of state gun laws and large-scale public gatherings.