RNC security: Guns OK, tennis balls banned within rough footprint

The Milwaukee Common Council approved banning a long list of items for the Republican National Convention's rough security footprint, and the mayor is posed to sign the legislation.

While you can't bring a water gun into that soft, outer security footprint during the RNC, you could bring a real gun.

2024 RNC rough security footprint in Milwaukee

"It was necessary to pass, given what the state law is, but obviously, it looks ridiculous," said Milwaukee Alderman Scott Spiker. "We are preempted by the state. The state basically says: You shall not, as a municipality, enact restrictions on firearms and ammunition that is more restrictive than what we the state have ourselves."

"You have to reflect on the state statute," Common Council President José Pérez told FOX6 News. "I mean we can’t change it, we can’t be in violation of it. I didn’t think it was worth going to court, at least with my vote, and tying up a process that we know is in violation of the state statute."

No umbrellas with metal tips, no slingshots, no tents, no sleeping bags, no ladders, no shovels, no gas cans, no coolers, no glass bottles, no metal bottles, not even canned food, nor tennis balls will be allowed in the downtown area around the convention, according to the legislation.

"Canned foods? That’s ridiculous," said Rev. Joseph Jackson with Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.

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"I think that has to do with the projectile status of that, obviously nothing is a more dangerous projectile than a bullet," said Spiker.

There are exceptions. One is for people who work in the rough security footprint and use an otherwise banned item for their normal work. An exception is also offered for people who live within the footprint, too – as long as the item is kept in and used at home. 

The list of banned items resembles what Tampa used for the 2012 RNC and mirrors what Cleveland implemented in 2016.

The ban only applies to the soft security footprint seen in the map above. However, there is a hard security perimeter where guns will not be allowed. The U.S. Secret Service will likely reveal that zone next week. A special credential will be required to get through the metal detectors and huge fences that will go up.

"We're fully aware of the laws of the state and the ordinances of the city, so again, we are making those decisions about what our perimeter is," said U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle of the state law allowing guns outside the hard perimeter. "We take that into account as well."


RNC security plans not set, protesters allege free speech restrictions

The head of the U.S. Secret Service said security plans for the RNC are still being determined as protesters allege they will violate free speech.

Full list of banned items found in legislation

  • "Lumber larger than 2 inches in width and 0.25 inches thick, including supports for signs.
  • Metal, plastic, or other hard material larger than 0.75 inches thick and 0.0125 inches in wall thickness, including pipe and tubing.
  • Any air rifle, air pistol, paintball gun, blasting cap, cestus or other combat glove, billy club, blackjack, sword, saber, hatchet, axe, slingshot, BB gun, pellet gun, wrist shot or wrist rocket, metal knuckles, nunchucks, iron buckle, axe handle, shovel, or other instrument potentially used to cause damage to persons or property.
  • Any dangerous ordnance, weapon, or firearm that is prohibited by the laws of the state of Wisconsin under ss. 941.26, 941.28 and 941.298, Wis. Stats.
  • Any explosive, explosive device, or incendiary device.
  • Any firework or rocket.
  • Any drone or other unmanned aircraft system or device.
  • Any containers of bodily fluid or waste.
  • Any containers of flammable liquid.
  • Any aerosol can.
  • Any mace, pepper spray, OC spray or other chemical irritant.
  • Any umbrella with a metal tip.
  • Any projectile launcher, such as a slingshot, wrist rockets, water gun or water cannon.
  • Any adhesive or any rope, chain, cable, strapping, wire, string, line, tape or similar material in a length greater than 6 inches.
  • Any glass bottle, ornament, light bulb, ceramic vessel or other frangible or brittle container, regardless of whether the container holds any substance.
  • Any lock, including, without limitation, any padlock, bicycle locking device, chain lock or similar device, but not including: Any integral component of a conveyance or structure. Any lock when utilized by the owner of private real property to secure temporary or permanent fencing. Any lock attached to a bicycle.
  • Any integral component of a conveyance or structure.
  • Any lock when utilized by the owner of private real property to secure temporary or permanent fencing.
  • Any lock attached to a bicycle.
  • Any tent or other shelter, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, mattress, cot, hammock, bivy sack or stove.
  • Any cooler or ice chest.
  • Any backpack or bag exceeding the dimensions of 18 inches by 13 inches by 7 inches.
  • Any laser.
  • Any non-plastic container, bottle, can or thermos.
  • Any ladder.
  • Any grappling hook, sledgehammer, hammer, crowbar or prybars.
  • Any canned goods.
  • Any tennis balls or other similarly sized balls.
  • Any gas mask or similar device designed to filter all air breathed by the wearer in an attempt to protect the respiratory tract or face against irritating or noxious gasses or other materials. This prohibition shall not apply to law enforcement and emergency personnel acting in their official capacities, any person wearing a medical oxygen mask that fits over the person’s nose and mouth to provide oxygen from an oxygen tank to that person, or any cloth, N95/KN95 or surgical mask used as personal protection equipment to avoid transmission of viral infection.
  • Any other item determined by the chief of police to be a clear and present danger to the safety of others."