Cleveland’s police chief on Wednesday said that his department has dealt with open carry demonstrations before and is prepared to deal with them again.

(Note: the man in the photo accompanying the Reuters story is not him; he’s Secret Service.)

That’s good (if not entirely convincing) news, because several groups, including the New Black Panthers, have promised that they will be open carrying outside the Republican National Convention there next week.

Some are certain to call it racist to emphasize the participation of the New Black Panthers in open carry protests; still, after the recent killing of five police officers in Dallas by Micah Xavier Johnson and several threats made to police departments, it would be ridiculous to assume that police officers in Cleveland aren’t on edge.

Be assured that other groups also plan to carry firearms outside the convention. On Monday, the New York Times published its take on the issue, citing the participation of the Oath Keepers, an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as a far-right, “fiercely antigovernment, militaristic group.”

The New Black Panthers don’t escape the very liberal SPLC’s hate group tag either, and are described as “a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers.”

Speaking of liberal groups, those exercising their right to open carry at the RNC will be doing so much closer to the event site than the city originally planned, thanks to a settlement last month between Cleveland and the ACLU that shrunk dramatically the designated security zone around the event.

Is open carry a disaster waiting to happen? Not necessarily. Take for example the “person of interest” whose photo was circulated soon after the shootings in Dallas: many on Twitter quickly recognized the man from footage showing him among the protesters on the ground as sniper fire rang out from above. Yes, he was pictured carrying an AR-15, but he was doing everything right: the rifle was strapped to his back and later revealed to have been unloaded.

It all depends on whether people follow the law. At a press conference Wednesday, Cleveland’s police chief ran down the specifics of Ohio’s open carry law as a reminder (see video at the link).

Chief Calvin Williams reminded the pubic that open carry doesn’t come without plenty of restrictions. “You can’t menace a person with that weapon. You can’t brandish that weapon, you can’t point it at people,” he clarified. “There are a lot of things that, just because you carry openly, doesn’t mean you can pull that weapon out, show that weapon or brandish that weapon.”

Not to oversimplify, but if delegates and protesters alike obey the law, things should go smoothly.

Of course, that’s a really big “if.”

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