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*-- Thousands sign petition to permit guns at Republican National Convention --*

WASHINGTON - More than 20,000 people have signed a petition to allow guns to be carried at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

The petition gained the support in just over a week, asking the state to permit gunowners to carry their weapons in the Quicken Loans Arena during the convention in July.

The petition was posted to on March 21 by an anonymous user, picking up nearly 23,000 signatures since. The Ohio Republican Party told USA Today it had no knowledge of the petition, and that the Secret Service would be handling security for the event.

While Ohio is an open carry state, Quicken Loans Arena is designated a gun-free zone. The petitions' organizers are asking the arena to suspend the policy during the four-day convention, and for Ohio Gov. John Kasich to use his executive authority to allow the arena to override the gun-free designation.

In addition to warning of the potential for a terror attack at the arena during the convention -- which they posit could be fought off if attendees are permitted to carry guns -- the organizers raised concern about the safety of Cleveland and wisdom of even having schedule the convention there.

"Cleveland, Ohio, is consistently ranked as one of the top ten most dangerous cities in America," they write in the petition. "By forcing attendees to leave their firearms at home, the RNC and Quicken Loans Arena are putting tens of thousands of people at risk both inside and outside of the convention site."

The Secret Service banned guns within a "clean zone" around the convention site in Tampa in 2012, despite questions about whether it was legal to do so in Florida at the time.


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