Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

No firearms allowed at GOP debate. But fireworks ....?

At Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena, the site of tonight's GOP presidential debate, "firearms and other weapons of any kind are strictly forbidden." In other words, the Republicans have agreed to hold their debate in the most dangerous place in America, according to conservative rhetoric -- a gun-free zone.

I do hope all 10 candidates nonetheless summon enough courage to attend.

The issue is particularly dicey for Donald Trump. He portrays himself as a life member of the NRA, a concealed carry permit holder, a stalwart defender of the Second Amendment and a harsh critic of gun-free zones. "We have to get rid of that whole gun-free-zone nonsense and just stop it,” he said in Charleston, S.C., after the church shooting there. “We gotta stick up for the Second Amendment.”

However, as the good folks at ThinkProgress point out, a lot of Trump's hotels, golf courses and other properties are -- you guessed it -- gun-free zones. Even permit holders are not allowed to carry at facilities such as Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles and the Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk in Hawaii, among others.

In a different environment, that might be something that Trump's competitors for the GOP nomination might want to ask him about, but I doubt very much that will happen. He'll be the coiled cobra in a room of elephants at Quicken Loans Arena tonight, the person whom others avoid as much as possible for fear of becoming a target of his wrath.  And Trump himself has promised to be on good behavior.

“I'm not looking to hurt anybody," he told Bill O'Reilly. "I'm not looking to embarrass anybody. If I have to bring up deficiencies I will bring up deficiencies. But certainly I'm not looking to do that.”

Maybe. But two hours is a long time for a man to go against his nature.

Consider this an open forum on tonight's debate.





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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.