Trump And Carson Mock Gun-Free Zones At Their Gun-Free Rallies

Republican presidential candidates Ben Carson, left, and Donald Trump talk before the start of the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015,... Republican presidential candidates Ben Carson, left, and Donald Trump talk before the start of the CNN Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Simi Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) MORE LESS
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ATLANTA (AP) — Republican presidential contender Ben Carson has a simple solution for preventing a Paris-style attack at one of his campaign rallies: “If a bunch of terrorists came in here and there were people in here with guns, it would be very unlikely that they would be able to carry about the kind of massacre they did in Paris.”

But there’s a snag in that approach — the demands of the Secret Service agents now protecting him, at his request (and at taxpayer expense). They don’t allow any guns except those carried by authorized personnel.

At Carson’s rallies as well as Donald Trump’s, there’s a dissonance between the faith they put in the hands of armed citizens to keep public events safe and the Secret Service protection they rely on for their own security.

To be sure, a campaign rally with a polarizing candidate on stage — or any candidate — is not the same as a soccer stadium or nightclub like the ones attacked in Paris. The Secret Service began protecting certain candidates in presidential primaries after the killing of Robert Kennedy in 1968, which followed the assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, in 1963, out of fear that more political figures — not just presidents — would be targeted.

Yet for the public, political rallies to which the agency is assigned are decidedly the “gun-free zones” that Trump has explicitly called for ending and that Carson supports doing away with, too, judging from his rhetoric.

In November, Trump told a crowd of several thousand at a rally in Knoxville, Tennessee, that “Paris is one of the places in the world that’s toughest on guns” so Parisians were left vulnerable.

“There was nothing anybody can do,” he said. “I know one thing, in this room, it’s a whole different story, right?” The crowd cheered.

He was right that it was a different story than Paris — but that was because of the Secret Service people in the room, not citizens packing guns.

Asked about the rules after that rally, Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor said, “Any assumption that non-authorized law enforcement personnel at this venue or any other Secret Service-secured protected event were armed would be inaccurate.” She said if someone who did not have authority to bring a weapon showed up with one, that person would be arrested by local authorities.

Carson mocked the concept of gun-free zones in his rally Tuesday night in Georgia, before a crowd of about 2,000. “You have people who want to kill you and you’re going to say, ‘Uh, why don’t you come over here, none of us have guns,'” he said to laughter and applause. “I mean that is just so asinine it’s unbelievable.”

He spoke at center stage with armed Secret Service agents standing to his left and his right.

But he acknowledged them.

“I don’t know if this is a gun-free zone here,” he said. “Now fortunately we have some Secret Service. … They have guns.”

Trump and Carson have joined Democrat Hillary Clinton as the only 2016 candidates with Secret Service details at this point in the campaign. Clinton has had some level of Secret Service protection since 1992, when her husband, Bill, was elected president. Carson and Trump began receiving protection in November.

Once a candidate requests Secret Service protection, the agency does not make the decision. Federal law authorizes the homeland security secretary to decide which “major Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates” should be protected, based on their standing in the race and perceived threats. The secretary consults with a congressional advisory panel that includes leaders of both parties in the House and Senate and one additional member of Congress.

Before Robert Kennedy’s murder on the night of the California Democratic primary in 1968, Secret Service protection was not standard for political candidates. Soon afterward, protection was extended to major candidates for president and vice president as well as to their spouses.

Jon Adler, a law enforcement officer, gun-rights advocate and president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation, said he’d favor letting people bring guns to rallies if the Secret Service were not there — but not when the agency is assigned to the candidate. That, he said, would mean “a Wild, Wild West set of circumstances.”


Colvin reported from Newark, New Jersey. Associated Press writer Erik Schelzig contributed from Knoxville, Tennessee.


Follow Barrow and Colvin on Twitter at and

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Notable Replies

  1. Please proceed, gentlemen … to put your money where your mouth is – in reverse.

  2. Don’t mock the farmer with your mouth full of food and don’t mock the gun laws in an audience full of guns.

  3. I think that we should get a petition going to remove all metal detectors and require that Capitol Hill and all state buildings be open carry if they continue to force more guns everywhere. It should then be everywhere.

    Ohio just installed metal detectors in the state house. They are also contemplating a bill that will allow people to carry weapons into daycare centers. Seriously. FFS.

  4. I was gonna say. We can mock gun free zones when Trump and Carson allow weapons to be carried into their rallies.

    The notion that the Second Amendment permits carrying weapons everywhere, except (of course) where the legislators/candidates work, is offensively transparent.

  5. So apropos! Gun humping Texans (of course) plan to begin their drive to end all “gun free zones” in the state and across the country by staging a “…mock mass shooting at the University of Texas.”

    Why? Cause the only answer to gun violence is…of course…MORE GUNS! Duh!
    Open Carry Walk and Crisis Performance Event will involve actors “shot”
    by perpetrators armed with cardboard weapons, said Matthew Short, a
    spokesman for the gun rights groups Come and Take It Texas and“It’s a fake mass shooting, and we’ll use fake blood,” he
    said. He said gun noises will be blared from bullhorns. Other people
    will then play the role of rescuers, also armed with cardboard weapons.]
    Big Fun, huh?

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