MidAmeriCon II Posts Weapons Policy

The 2016 Worldcon, MidAmeriCon II, today posted its weapons policy on the convention website.

Convention weapons policies commonly are of most interest to cosplayers, however, the news stories about open carry and comments on a few sf blogs have combined to raise questions whether real weapons could be worn by members within the convention spaces. The answer is: no.

Weapons Policy

  1. No real or dangerous weapon, or any item that can be mistaken for one, may be carried at any time in the Kansas City Convention Center or within other hotel areas under the control of MidAmeriCon II. A “dangerous weapon” is defined as “any weapon that is readily capable of lethal use.”
  2. The Convention Center will have a security station in the main lobby to inspect prop weapons for compliance with the center’s policy. A prop weapon that is realistic in appearance must be inspected and tagged by the Convention Center’s inspection check station in the main lobby. Any prop weapon that is carried in the Convention Center must be submitted for inspection; any person carrying a prop weapon that has not been inspected will be directed to the lobby or asked to remove the prop weapon from the center.
  3. All realistic weapons must be brought to Convention Headquarters (ConHQ) located in the exhibit hall (there will be signs) to be peace-bonded. If you are unsure whether your weapon might be considered realistic, you must present it to ConHQ, which is the final arbiter of which weapons require peace-bonding.
  4. No functional projectile weapons, props, or toys are permitted anywhere in the Convention Center or other MidAmeriCon II convention space, regardless of whether they are peace bonded.
  5. Any prop or realistic weapon purchased in the Dealers’ Room, or any item purchased that could be mistaken for one, must be wrapped and immediately transported out of the Convention Center, and may not be carried in the center unless it is first inspected as specified in items 2 and 3.
  6. If you are competing in the Masquerade and you have concerns about whether a prop or realistic weapon that you intend to use as part of your presentation will be permitted into the Convention Center, you must contact the Masquerade director as early as possible.
  7. Any person who displays or brandishes a prop, real, or realistic weapon, or any item that can be mistaken for one, in a threatening or harmful manner may have their MidAmeriCon II membership revoked without refund, be expelled from the Convention Center, and could be subject to arrest.

MidAmeriCon II believes that if you follow the above rules, you should not have a problem with the Convention Center policy. However, if you are told that your weapon is not allowed, by the Convention Center or MidAmeriCon II staff, you will need to immediately return it to your hotel room or car.

Any item which is prohibited by governing law is prohibited under this policy.

[Thanks to Jared Dashoff for the story.]

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96 thoughts on “MidAmeriCon II Posts Weapons Policy

  1. It’s good they are putting a policy out now, but I’m having a little problem parsing rule #4. Is it functional projectile (weapons, props, or toys)? Or is it functional (projectile weapons), props, or toys? Or even (functional projectile weapons), props, or toys? I’d like to believe it is the first of these. That is, that they are banning anything that can throw projectiles, whether they are bullets, arrows, or ping-pong balls.

    I guess this policy will discourage people who want to wear a sword because it is in character, people who want to carry a concealed gun, because they always do, and people who want to hit other people with giant inflatable hammers for reasons I don’t comprehend.

  2. JBWeld: How do weapons policies like this interact with LEOSA?

    LEOSA takes precedence.

  3. LEOSA has an exception for state laws that allow private persons or entities to prohibit or restrict the possession of concealed firearms on their property. 18 U.S.C. 926B(b)(1). It appears that Missouri law allows private property owners to prohibit carrying weapons on their property (including permitting prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons), so the exception in LEOSA would seem to apply.

  4. Excellent!

    This is almost word-for-word the policy of Silicon Valley Comic Con, who probably got it from somewhere else, as that looked familiar when I read it. Using something that looks like it covers all the bases and has been successful before is a good idea — why reinvent the wheel when you’ve got something ready-made? It might be a bit stricter in #4, even; no projectile-throwing things even sans ammo.

    No Nerf weapons, I guess. No boffers, or are those not-realistic enough? What about fake explosive devices, do those count as weapons? (Probably.) Would a Spy vs. Spy duo be forbidden from carrying the round cartoon BOMB? (I’ve seen them at cons)

    I used to wear peacebonded knives and swords, unsharpened. Idiots are why we can’t have nice things. The one Highlander con I went to, I think EVERYONE was wearing a sword (duh), mostly prop. And one was indeed brandished, but it was by the TV show star himself in a large space.

    Exceptions for onstage at the Masquerade will be made. As long as there’s no peanut butter.

    Hark… are those howling and whining juvenile canines?

  5. I’ve worn a “sword” as part of a costume. When asked by Ops if it was a live weapon, after asking permission I drew the sword…. and revealed a hilt mounted to tongue depressors (to hold it in the scabbard).

  6. Aaron: “It appears that Missouri law allows private property owners to prohibit carrying weapons on their property…”

    Hard to find anything Missouri-specific online, but I saw a gun owner message board that felt the same way as you. Can you point to that Missouri law?

  7. Can you point to that Missouri law?

    No. I found a fact sheet put out by a Missouri sheriff’s department about concealed carry permits. That’s why I said it seems that Missouri law allows for private property owners to restrict firearms on their property, because the sheriff’s department seems to thing it does.

  8. Missouri Revised Statues Section 571.107.1 (15), as part of a list of places in which a concealed carry permit is not valid, states:

    Any private property whose owner has posted the premises as being off-limits to concealed firearms by means of one or more signs displayed in a conspicuous place of a minimum size of eleven inches by fourteen inches with the writing thereon in letters of not less than one inch. The owner, business or commercial lessee, manager of a private business enterprise, or any other organization, entity, or person may prohibit persons holding a concealed carry permit or endorsement from carrying concealed firearms on the premises and may prohibit employees, not authorized by the employer, holding a concealed carry permit or endorsement from carrying concealed firearms on the property of the employer. If the building or the premises are open to the public, the employer of the business enterprise shall post signs on or about the premises if carrying a concealed firearm is prohibited. Possession of a firearm in a vehicle on the premises shall not be a criminal offense so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the premises. An employer may prohibit employees or other persons holding a concealed carry permit or endorsement from carrying a concealed firearm in vehicles owned by the employer;

    I don’t see any language about open carry.

  9. @David Shallcross got much better information than I did. I was able for find a little bit out thanks to the NRA and Wikipedia (links to Missouri government). Figured I’d post the info I found and how I found it for future. NRA and Wikipedia are both good starting points for gun laws. From there I’m usually able to get to the actual state laws.

    From NRA on Missouri and Missouri Gun PDF FAQ :

    Section 571.107 RSMo.
    Concealed firearms cannot be carried in or on posted private property.

  10. Cassy – I’d be shocked if it wasn’t already posted as standing policy at the convention center.

  11. Cassy, they might have the signs on-hand and post them as required by the users. If they’re having a gun show or a gathering with a large percentage of people who habitually carry, they’d take them down.

    Don’t know if the facility has those sort of things, but they’re in an area where people like their boomsticks. Might cut into their business if they didn’t sometimes allow them.

  12. David Dyer-Bennet: More to the point, is the Convention Center private property? Most of them are government-owned.

    For purposes of a convention, the convention is legally allowed to treat their contracted panel and exhibit rooms and other spaces as private property, which fall under the convention’s rules (as long as those rules do not violate the venue’s rules or existing state/federal laws).

    ETA: IF MidAmeriCon II has posted this policy, you can bet that they have verified its legality and enforceability.

  13. MAC2 did say they were checking with the venue before putting up the policy; I presume this was one of the things they were double-checking, whether they were allowed to set their own rules.

  14. @lurkertype: I’m as edgy around unsharpened blades as sharp ones. I know for a fact what my iaito can do to a target and it’s not really preferable to what my sharpened blade does.

    On the other hand, people can run at me with cardboard or plastic swords all they want and I won’t react (having been in situations where people have indeed charged me with flimsy props when I’ve been carrying a live blade)

  15. So if I’m reading that policy correctly, if I lived in Missouri people I let in my house (to fix the plumbing, for example) could legally bring in concealed firearms without even asking me unless I actually post signs to the contrary on my property?

    The bathroom of a private house seems like an odd place for a “no guns” sign, but under this scenario, maybe not…

  16. This is similar to the policies posted by all the conventions around here. For a long time, the only concern was to make sure swords and daggers and phasers and disruptors were “peace bonded” . And then, Star Gate hit the scene, and OMG, the weaponry that showed up would sink a battle cruiser, and all carried by fans in camo. Air guns, replicas of Berettas and P90s.
    And you would not believe the push back I got from SG fans when I told them I was enforcing the weapons policy at Con*Cept which that year was just after the shootings up the street at Concordia University, and the first responders on the scene were the cops from the station across the street from our hotel, the station that houses the SWAT and various special police squads.
    I was terrified that someone in camo would walk out the front door carrying a P90.

  17. @Cat
    I found out one of my relatives, a plumber, carries. The reasoning goes something like you never know what kind of crazy your client is going to be.

    I’d put the sign on your house Not the bathroom as you don’t want them entertaining at all. The idea that in some states this is a question one needs to ask people on the phone before hiring them to avoid surprises on all sides blows my mind. The ones who don’t carry may not come in concern you have guns & the ones who CCW won’t come because you are an anti-gun nut. Life in the US is grand ain’t it?

  18. The Sprint Center is just down the street from where Worldcon will be held. They enforce their weapons policy with metal detectors and bag searches. Do you think we’ll have something similar?

  19. @Cathy Palmer-Lister
    I remember going to an SG con in the UK in the early 2000s (a Wolf Events one) and watching the con runner go running past one evening with a couple of uniformed police officers. Some idiots had gone to the MacDonald’s down the road in full camo with their incredibly realistic prop P90s. Unfortunately, the MacDonald’s was popular with the local police.

    Yup, they were being surrounded by an armed response unit and the con runner was having to explain and talk everyone down. I felt really bad for him. Significantly less bad for the people who didn’t think parading around a MacDonald’s in the Heathrow area with realistic guns would be a problem…

  20. @RDF

    Oh no!. If he does that, how will he decide he was insulted years later?

  21. Well, I’m sure that if Worldcon doesn’t declare him God Emperor of the Galaxy in absentia and offer four and twenty virgins to wipe his feet with their hair, he’ll find a way to pass it off as an insult.

    And Brad Torgersen will take the moderate stance that maybe only a dozen virgins would be sufficient.

  22. @Oneiros: My swords were both unsharpened and peace bonded. I didn’t complain about this because I didn’t want some chucklehead grabbing ’em and whacking at people with them. But they were good for costumes.

    @snowcrash: Larry will just decide he was insulted now, even before it happens. He can use this policy as an excuse for being such a wuss as to not face up to what he’s done. I guess he can wander off to GunNutzCon where he doesn’t run the risk of anyone who would ever dream of nominating him for a prestigious award and then dare not to give it to him.

  23. lurkertype: I guess he can wander off to GunNutzCon

    Yeah, I’m just waiting for the Valley Forge bid to announce that Correia, MZW, or the Marmot is their chosen GoH.

  24. 1: A “dangerous weapon” is defined as “any weapon that is readily capable of lethal use.”

    So, no pencils then.

    Cosplay will be a real hoot, I bet. Cardboard looks very realistic if you put a bunch of silver paint on it.

    I prefer the policy at Toronto Comic Con, where they were selling swords and assorted cutlery in the dealer’s room. I could have picked up a rather nice katana at an only mildly inflated price.

  25. The Phantom, I’ve been to conventions with strict weapons policies that had sword/knife dealers in the dealer’s room. You just have to bring your purchases straight up to your hotel room.

    I’ve also been to a convention when over-enthusiastic (or over-served) LARPers (or cosplayers; the distinction wasn’t drawn so clearly back then) “shot” glowing flashing rayguns at passing highway traffic and nearly caused accidents. Which sort of behavior is what caused the stricter weapons policies in subsequent years.

    All things considered, in my thirty-plus years of convention-going, I’ve noticed that very small conventions (which self-regulate behavior by peer pressure more effectively) can get away with lax weapons policies… but the bigger the convention, the higher the odds that someone will do something egregiously stupid.

  26. @The Phantom

    In your case, I think no pencils would be for the best. They’re not edible, you know.

  27. Cassy B.: At the 1978 Westercon we had a particular problematic member who people learned to keep an eye on all weekend. I was co-chair, and remember being called out one evening to help deal with him after fans reported he had shown off a real sword, drawing it from the scabbard, then gone on his way. (In the direction of his room, I think — we found him in a corridor. I don’t remember many details, other than trying not to sound overly excited, and I think he agreed to leave the sword in his room.)

    Soon thereafter peace-bonding was invented by fans somewhere else in the country and I thought that sounded like a fine idea.

  28. Mike, <noddy> and That’s Why We Can’t Have Nice Things. <wry>

    People can protest that they wouldn’t do that sort of thing all they like; it just takes one person getting out of control for some reason (ignorance, enthusiasm, machismo, drunkeness, a bad breakup….) to make the rules tighter. And I don’t blame the rule-makers; one lawsuit can put a convention permanently out of business.

  29. Aaron @Cassy B: It seems that Phantom didn’t bother to read Paragraph 5 of the policy.

    Why bother when you can read the headline and fulminate at length about what you assume the rest of it says?

    Goddamn it – he’s a Real SF Fan Standing Up For Real SF – you can’t expect him to waste his time *reading*…

  30. @lurkertype: It’s kind of a shame we can’t trust people with anything like that. But at least they looked cool, even if peace-bonded.

    (I’m super edgy about it because mostly I only go to cons with my live blades – one of the perks of being in a dojo that uses live blades and gets hired to perform at cons, but it does mean I’m basically on high alert all the time)

  31. Oneiros, years (decades) ago I wore a live blade to a con. Someone came up behind me, and while saying “Cool! Is that real?” he grabbed the hilt and drew the sword from its sheath! Ever since, when costuming calls for a blade, I use a modified hilt attached to tongue-depressors AND peace-tie it in place.

    Because it only takes one fool. And the person wearing the weapon isn’t necessarily the fool in question.

  32. @Cassy B.:

    Someone came up behind me, and while saying “Cool! Is that real?” he grabbed the hilt and drew the sword from its sheath!

    Wow. In addition to dangerous and foolish, that’s just plain rude.

    I am reminded of the dudebro who approached me in a hotel lobby during San Fermin en Nueva Orleans and tried to yank my bat out of my hands. Thankfully I had it on a lanyard around my wrist, as well as having it in a tight grip.

    (I said, “You ask before touching others’ things.” He said, “OK, so, can I see it?” I said, “No.” He gave me a look that clearly said, “Why should I bother asking, then, if b!tches like you are just going to say no?”)

    That, at least, wasn’t an edged weapon, so no one was put in harm’s way (except, perhaps, rude dude, if you count how very badly I wanted to pummel him with said bat). But the rudeness and just plain entitlement of the act is always breathtaking, no matter how many times I see it happen.

  33. I mean, I’ve asked, respectfully and without touching, “May I see that $(element-of-costume;-often-pointy) more closely, please? Because it’s cool….” But I’ve always maintained personal space and graciously accepted the occasional “no”. There are valid reasons people don’t want to show you things. Maybe it’s dangerous. Maybe it’s unwieldy. Maybe it’s difficult to disengage to the point where it can be seen. Maybe it’s a hilt on tongue-depressors…. <grin>

  34. Having been a vendor for years at FanExpo and a few times at Toronto Comicon, which is run by the same company, I know for a fact that all purchases of weapons must be kept in a box/packaging or otherwise vendors will tell you to take it straight to your car or hotel room (or just away from the convention property) or they might tell you to do both (keep it in the packaging and straight outside). And it wasn’t that many years ago that a vendor was kicked out of FanExpo for selling weapons they shouldn’t, including selling throwing stars and nunchucks to minors, I believe that not only were they kicked out but the Toronto police got involved. I don’t cosplay so my memory about fake weapons is a bit more foggy but I am pretty sure they have a peacebonding rule and sometimes they just tell people this or that weapon is not safe or permitted, or ask them to modify a part that they feel is unsafe, just that the specifics I’ve never personally experienced. Not that I think anyone is about to think Canadian conventions are some sort of weapons paradise lol

  35. @Cassy B.: in my experience the person who actually has the live blade is likely to be fairly sensible. It’s everyone around that person who’s a liability, and why I end up being so hyper-vigilant at cons (plus the fact that I usually end up guarding the sword rack despite being one of the smaller and weaker looking members of the dojo).

    Slightly related but I once took a few friends to an archery range (ones I trusted not to accidentally put an arrow through someone) and one of them brought along “a few friends” who.. well… let’s say I wouldn’t have trusted some of them with safety scissors. I ended up having a coffee far enough away from them that I wasn’t worried about being shot through with an arrow.

  36. RDF on May 12, 2016 at 10:05 pm said: “Goddamn it – he’s a Real SF Fan Standing Up For Real SF – you can’t expect him to waste his time *reading*…”

    I already know where it’s all going. The end-point of the policy you guys are all in love with is the TSA. They’re the Drudge headline today, Chicago airport is pretty well shut down by the security line, it goes for about a mile apparently. Two hour wait.

    I suggest a different policy.

    Sunhawk on May 13, 2016 at 9:32 am said: Having been a vendor for years at FanExpo and a few times at Toronto Comicon, which is run by the same company, I know for a fact that all purchases of weapons must be kept in a box/packaging or otherwise vendors will tell you to take it straight to your car or hotel room (or just away from the convention property) or they might tell you to do both (keep it in the packaging and straight outside).

    Yes. That’s what I said. People are buying swords at the convention, and walking around with them at will. Inside the box becomes outside the box by the application of a thumbnail to the packing tape, and yet there have to date been zero fatalities. Shocking.

    Cassy B. on May 13, 2016 at 5:49 am said: Oneiros, years (decades) ago I wore a live blade to a con. Someone came up behind me, and while saying “Cool! Is that real?” he grabbed the hilt and drew the sword from its sheath!

    And you let him go? That’s why morons do stuff like that, people like you let them get away with it.

  37. shit, forgot also to say that I’ve seen people ask: “is that sharp?!” and then run their hand along the blade without waiting for an answer. Fortunately, every single time that’s happened, it’s been with the unsharpened swords (we don’t wear the sharp ones before or after a demo and a member of the public doesn’t get to hold the live weapons under any circumstances. Precisely because of that kind of foolishness.)

  38. Oneiros, and then there are the people who think, “this isn’t a REAL weapon; it won’t do any harm” and so go “shooting” cars on a highway at night with glowing light-up “rayguns” and nearly causing accidents, as per my first example upthread. Or take realistic-but-fake guns out of the convention as per Katherine Jay’s example.

    I really am sorry for The Phantom that he can’t strut around Worldcon with the real or ersatz weaponry that would make him happy. I’m not sorry that, as a result, he won’t get shot by police, or accidentally cause harm to others.

  39. I see that now that Phantom has been made aware that the policy covers his whine, he’s decided that the problem isn’t the policy, but rather an imagined policy he’s invented in his head that he is sure will be implemented in the future.

    And he wonders why everyone regards him as a guy wearing clown makeup and big floppy shoes.

  40. The Phantom, And you let him go? That’s why morons do stuff like that, people like you let them get away with it.

    He was, maybe, 12 years old. What do you suggest I should have done, slugged him? Cut his hand off? Have him arrested? I gave him a lecture. I also gave a lecture to his parent. If it happened today, I’d bring the episode to the attention of convention security… but at the time it never would have occurred to me to do so.

    I’m pointing out that this sort of thing happens in real life. And people sometimes get hurt as a result. That blade had an edge (not razor-sharp, but sharper than a butterknife). If the kid had started swinging it around rather than giving it back when his parent ordered him to, he could have done some damage to himself or others.

    If someone had been harmed (which could easily have happened; it was a crowded hallway), it would have come out of the convention’s insurance. Or I would have been sued. Or both.

    That’s why, on those occasions when I wear a costume with a sword at a convention, it now has a tongue-depressor blade.

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