Los Angeles Comic Con Adopts Stricter Weapons Policy

Another comic con, Los Angeles Comic Con (#LACC) has adopted a stricter weapons (#props & #costumes) #policy. The new policy bans all prop guns:

  • Effective immediately, Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con will be a GUN FREE and PROP-GUN FREE SHOW. This means that anyone who brings a GUN, FIRE ARM and/or PROP-GUN to Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con will NOT be allowed to enter the LA Convention Center. Furthermore, GUNS, FIREARMS, and/or PROP-GUNS will NOT be allowed on the show floor.
  • PROP-GUNS: To be clear, props including, but not limited to those that resemble historical guns, science fiction guns, or fantasy guns. Simply put, if it looks like a GUN (and is NOT a banana or your finger), DON’T BRING IT!

In other words, if you were planning to take a prop that resembles any kind of gun (including purely fictional ones) it won’t be allowed in.

So what kind of prop weapons are being allowed? Only if they conform to the following:

  • Prop Weapons will be allowed, providing they are composed of cardboard, foam, wood or other lightweight materials.

Additionally, metal light sabers will also not be allowed: they have to be made of plastic.

  • Lightsabers must be light-weight and made of plastic.

Clearly LACC organizers (and/or the venue) are concerned about metal light sabers potentially being used as blunt force weapons at the comic con, which seems a bit extreme; but increasingly this is the world that we live in: one of increased security, even when it isn’t necessarily justified imho.

Our only advice to everyone planning to attend LACC to be sure to fully read and understand the complete weapons policy and to not bring anything that won’t be allowed in.

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Ever-Changing Rules & Policies for Costumes & Props at Anime & Comic Conventions

As attendee #safety is a very important shared responsibility of comic & anime conventions, conventions establish rules & policies for allowed #costumes & #props. These rules & policies in part reflect local, state & federal laws, as well as any rules & policies of the venue where the convention is taking place. Additional rules & policies may also be instituted by convention organizers.

Invariably, not everyone likes the rules & policies that are established, especially when they change and become more restrictive. What many #cosplayers & #costumers fail to appreciate is that the rules and policies are for everyone’s safety, both physically and emotionally.

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Common Rules & Policies

The most common rules & policies that restrict what a costumer, cosplayer (or any attendee) can wear or have in their possession at an anime or comic convention are as follows:

  • No nudity.
  • No actual firearms, explosive devices, chemicals or devices that can release chemicals or other projectiles.
  • No sharp-bladed metal weapons, such as knives, swords, ninja stars, etc.
  • No sharp points on costumes that can potentially injure others.
  • No dangerous blunt weapons, such as wood or metal baseball bats, or other similar blunt force weapons that aren’t constructed from foam, cardboard or other light-weight materials.

Recent Incidents Involving Safety

Where incidents have occurred, some conventions may institute more restrictive rules and policies that include many more banned items, such as in the aftermath of the man arrested earlier this year at Phoenix Comicon, who was heavily armed with real weapons and extra ammunitions. The more restrictive bans at Phoenix Comicon include the following:

  • Prohibited Items
    The following props and accessories are not permitted at Phoenix Comicon

    • Firearms of any kind regardless of whether it has been emptied, disabled, or otherwise incapacitated, including but not limited to real and replica
      • BB guns
      • cap guns
      • paintball guns
      • nerf guns
      • blowguns
      • water guns
      • pellet guns
      • airsoft guns
      • Toy guns
      • Blasters
      • Any other real or replica weapon that resembles a firearm
    • Tasers
    • Glass Props
    • Stone Props
    • Chainsaws or other gas-powered props
    • Bladed metal or wooden weapons, including but not limited to
      • Axes
      • Daggers
      • Hatchets
      • Knives
      • Swords
      • pocket blades
      • ninja stars
      • metal or wooden shields
      • strung bows
      • bladed or sharp arrows
      • Flails
      • Power and garden tools
      • Claws
    • Real, replica, or simulated explosives, ammunition, and chemical weapons of any kind, including but not limited to
      • Bullets
      • Hand grenades
      • Claymore Mines
      • firecrackers
      • pepper spray
      • Mace
      • Powder caps
      • Cartoon bombs
      • Simulated bomb vests
    • Metal, spiked, wooden and other miscellaneous props including but not limited to
      • Metal Armor
      • Barbed wire
      • Metal spikes
      • Nunchucks
      • Metal, wooden, aluminum, or heavy plastic bats
      • Slingshots
      • Brass knuckles
      • Golf Clubs
      • Hockey Sticks
    • Excessively noisy props including but not limited to
      • Airhorns
      • Bullhorns
      • Whistles

One surprising item that appeared on the ban list was “metal armor” as many costumers & cosplayers wear metal armor, including Star Wars & medieval costumers & cosplayers.

Other Controversial Rule & Policy Changes

New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con also created a stir beginning in 2014 when it made its costume & prop policies more restrictive, forcing many costumers & cosplayers to either give up their props at the entrances or abandoning them in the streets leading to the convention. Things became more heated in 2016 at NYCC when they again changed their props & weapons to policy so that only foam & cardboard props & weapons would be permitted:

Prop weapons and prop firearms will be allowed providing they are composed of foam or cardboard only.

In 2017, the prop & weapons policies at NYCC changed somewhat again, reflecting the cosplay rules & policies established by the venue: Madison Square Garden, but the restriction on prop weapons being composed of only foam or cardboard remained in place:

  • All final decisions on costumes entering the facility shall be at the sole discretion of Madison Square Garden security.
  • Your costume must not be wider than 4 feet across, longer than 6 feet, or taller than 8 feet.
  • You MUST be able to easily maneuver your costume over stairs or ramps unassisted. You must be able to sit in your seat while wearing your costume, or plan to take it off once entering the stadium (limited storage space available).
  • You must have unobstructed vision at all times (i.e., must not need to remove a piece of your costume in order to see).
  • Armor cannot pose a threat to others by way of sharpened metal edges, spikes or bladed surfaces.
  • Prop weapons and prop firearms will be allowed providing they are composed of foam or cardboard only. The barrel of all prop firearms must be covered with brightly-colored caps. No bladed weapons, no metal, no wood, no fiberglass, no PVC, no glass, no firearms of any kind including air guns or cap guns.
  • Any bow-type weapons must be unstrung or strung with a low-tensile thread. All prop arrows must have soft, non-metal, blunted tips made out of foam or cardboard only.
  • You may not include liquids, gels, or other substances which could cause a mess. This is at the discretion of Madison Square Garden staff.
  • You may not use smoke effects, fire, explosives, or any other environmental hazard in any capacity.
  • You may display your prop weapons only as costume pieces. Do not swing or brandish your prop in any way that could be considered unsafe or threatening.
  • You may pose with a prop in a brandishing manner, so long as no reasonable person would interpret for anything other than dramatic effect. NYCC and Madison Square Garden staff may stop you at their sole discretion.

Rose City Comic Con (Portland, OR)

In 2017, Rose City Comic Con has instituted additional costuming rule that are causing a stir on social media for some costumers & cosplayers because it doesn’t involve props: it has to do with symbols:

  • Hateful symbols aren’t welcome at Rose City Comic Con. Historical costumes can be great, but reminders of unspeakable atrocities are not appropriate – this goes for Old School Hydra and Red Skull or any other Nazis from entertainment properties. Those figures, while comic-related, are still very much Nazis. As a result, they are 100% banned, always. This includes any sort of “ironic” or satirical costumes that re-appropriate Nazi paraphernalia or gear. You won’t just be banned from that year’s convention. You will be banned from coming to RCCC for life.

This is the first outright ban on Nazi symbology and costumes by a convention to our knowledge. While some are deeply offended by this new rule, which they view as apparent denial of free speech, current sociopolitical events in the United States were likely the reason for the adoption of this rule. In some countries (such as Germany and Austria), the display of any Nazi symbols is illegal.

Like it or not, costumers and cosplayers need to be familiar with a convention’s rules & policies for costumes & props before they attend. Regardless of how any one costumer or cosplayer feels about a particular convention’s rules & policies, always bear in mind that no one is obligated to attend a comic or anime convention. If you are so offended by a convention’s rules and policies, our only advice is simply to not attend. If you do choose to attend, then your costume and any props will have to comply with the convention’s rules & policies if you want to be permitted inside.

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DragonCon: 2 Women Injured by Chairs Thrown from the 10th Floor at the Marriott Atlanta Marquis Hotel; Police Are Investigating

Atlanta police are investigating the incident at #DragonCon where 2 women were injured when chairs were thrown from the 10th floor of the Marriott Atlanta Marquis Hotel onto people below. Both women were hospitalized and released, but it was a very frightening experience for both.

One of the victims, Kelly McDaniel, was walking in a first floor area of the hotel when one of the chairs hit her on the head. She then felt blood pouring down her face. She believes that her #costume hat (she was dressed as Loki from the #Avengers) reduced the severity of the injury.

The Director of Media Relations for DragonCon released the following statement:

“Two women at Dragon Con were injured at the convention early Sunday morning when two chairs were dropped from an outside balcony on the 10th floor in the Marriott to a landing below. The women were treated and released at separate hospitals.

We are grateful that the injuries were not more severe.  And we are proud of the Dragon Con attendees who stepped up quickly, realized the severity of the situation and provided immediate assistance.

Atlanta Police Department is investigating.”

The hotel management also said that they would be taking steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen again in the future.

We again urge anyone with knowledge of who threw the chairs from the 10th floor of the Marriott Hotel at DragonCon to contact the Atlanta Police Department.

Kelly McDaniel

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Hotel Guests Allegedly Injured at DragonCon Due to Chairs Thrown from 10th Floor

Utterly #unacceptable behavior: #cosplayers & #DragonCon convention attendees reported injuries after someone allegedly threw chairs from the 10th floor of the Marriott Hotel onto a crowded landing. Folks, conventions can end when hotels refuse to permit them on their premises when there is vandalism and/or other inappropriate behavior. DragonCon, which is regarded as the ultimate #cosplay convention, should be a place for cosplayers to meet and have fun without having to worry about dangerous items being thrown onto them from above.

If the reports are true, we strongly urge anyone with information as to who threw the chairs onto the crowded landing to immediately contact the Atlanta police. The individual(s) responsible must be held accountable for needlessly endangering and injuring others.

Report on Reddit

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People Spent More Time in Line Waiting to Enter than Inside Anime Expo 2017

Lines to enter #AnimeExpo2017 were so long that some people were still waiting to get in as evening approached. All of this was due to increased security that included bag checks at the entrance. Lines were reportedly 13-14 blocks long. One person reported that after 3 hours of waiting, their iPhone had recorded 7000 steps. Of course, for anyone who had a single-day pass on the worst day (Saturday, July 1, 2017), their day was effectively ruined. Additional entrances to help with the long lines were not opened until around 3:24 p.m., which is when Anime Expo staff tweeted that more had been opened. Anime Expo 2017 closed, however, at 6 p.m.

More bag checks were added in the following days with fewer complaints appearing on social media, but many are now referring to the expo as #linecon, which is likely how this convention is going to be remembered.

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It is inexcusable that conventions that are adding additional security and bag checks are not also adding the needed staff, entrances and training to reduce the resulting increased wait times for paid pass holders to enter. It also begs the question regarding the competence of convention management that increasingly appears to be describable as “amateur hour”.

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Arrested Phoenix Comicon Gunman Identified 

The gunman arrested at #PhoenixComicon on Thursday has been identified as 31-year old Matthew Sterling, who was charged with attempted murder, resisting arrest, multiple counts of aggravated assault, carrying a weapon in a prohibited place, and wearing body armor during the commission of a felony. A judge set his bond at $1-million on Friday.

Police said that Sterling was armed with a shotgun & three handguns, all of which were fully loaded. He was also carrying a combat knife, pepper spray and throwing stars. Police also said he was wearing body armor at the time of arrest.

According to the probable cause statement, Sterling (who was also wearing black tactical pants, a red bandanna, black face paint, and a shotgun bandolier) had entered the Phoenix Convention Center where he managed to avoid both the venue’s security and one of of the peace-bonding stations for inspecting prop weapons. He then proceeded to the second floor.

Signs posted throughout the Phoenix Convention Center prohibit weapons at the event. In court documents, he told police that he believed the signs and laws prohibiting weapons at the venue did not apply to him.

Court documents also reveal that Sterling saw himself as real-life version of Marvel comic book vigilante Punisher & that he was planning to kill well-known #PowerRangers actor Jason David Frank. A calendar reminder that was found on Sterling’s cellphone for May 25th stated “Kill JDF”.  He also told police that he would kill “bad police officers” if he needed to protect himself or his friends.

During the arraignment hearing, prosecutor Ed Leiter (of the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office) said in reference to Sterling, “He exhibited a dramatic threat to the community beyond police officers, beyond Jason David Frank.” Leiter also said, “A number of other people were referenced as possible targets or people he wanted to kill.”

The full text of the probable cause statement (with added paragraph breaks, spelling corrections & sentence case for readability) is listed below:

On may 25, 2017 at approximately 1211 hours, Phoenix police received a call from the Hawthorne Police Department in California regarding an individual, later identified as Matthew Enrique Navarro Sterling, via his Arizona drivers license. Details of the call stated a witness was receiving Facebook messages from Matthew stating he was threatening to shoot police officers, taking pictures of them and Matthew had numerous weapons on his person including handguns, a shotgun, a knife, pepper spray and wearing body armor.

Matthew was sending these messages as he sat on the second floor of 100 north 3rd street, the Phoenix Convention Center, while he was attending the Phoenix Comicon event. Matthew was described as wearing black tactical pants, a red bandana with his face painted black with a shotgun bandolier across his chest. Matthew relayed to the witness he was on the second floor with loaded weapons and was not leaving until police arrived. He stated to the witness that he was going to be in a showdown with cops and he would kill them.

Responding officers located Matthew on the second floor reading a comicon brochure. Officers approached and immediately began to control Matthew’s hands due to the numerous weapons they saw he had on his person. Matthew resisted arrest by tensing his arms to avoid being taken into custody. During the struggle to control Matthew, he ripped off an officers Phoenix police patch affixed to his uniform and pushed his full body weight against the bench he was sitting on so he could not be moved. Officers eventually overcame his strength and he was taken into custody at 1222 hours.

Inspection of the firearms revealed they were all real and all fully loaded. Mathew was sitting on a twelve gauge shotgun, two 45 caliber handguns, one .454 caliber handgun, a combat knife, pepper spray and throwing stars. There are signs posted throughout the event that firearms are prohibited and there are numerous stations where attendees with real weapons or props have them secured with bright colored zip ties. Matthew avoided these stations and proceeds to the second floor.

Matthew was transported to 620 West Washington Street to be interviewed. During the interview, Matthew admitted to taking loaded firearms into the venue. Matthew believed that the law prohibiting bringing loaded weapons into the venue applied to other people, but not him. Matthew said if he was forced to kill police officers, he would to defend himself. Matthew stated he was the Punisher, a popular comic book character that punishes people that do wrong. Matthew believes that there are police officers that have kind faces in uniform but they can be bad officers. Matthew said he would use violence against them if it meant he needed to protect his friends.

Matthew was wearing body armor under his shirt. He stated he had this on to protect himself. Matthew explained that he calls bad police officers “Aphrodite officers” and he can differentiate these bad officers from good ones. When asked about the officers he encountered today, Matthew said he would shoot them if he deemed they were Aphrodite officers. Matthew went on to post that things would get bloody and he would kill cops with his firearms.

When asked about his array of weapons, Matthew explained they were for self defense in case officers gave him trouble and that he would shoot to kill. Matthew said he would use his shotgun to hold them back until they were able to produce sufficient identification because Aphrodite officers hide behind regular police patches.

Facebook messages listed one victim by name who was scheduled to be at the comicon event. Matthew stated in his message and interview with detectives that he had stabbed the victim fifteen years prior and was at the event to finish the job. I asked Matthew what he meant when he said finishing the job and he said he wanted to see the victim behind bars.

Matthew set a calendar reminder in his phone to alert him tc kill the victim at comicon on may 25th. The victim was scheduled at comicon all four days and mathew purchased a four day pass. Matthew stated he believed if the victim was deceased, the victims wife and child would be happy. Matthew was sub-sequently booked into jail for the listed charges.

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