Phoenix Comicon Incident Sparks Weapons Debate At Conventions

This weekend has seen a large number of conventions, including Phoenix Comicon. On Thursday, Phoenix police arrested 30-year-old Mathew Sterling (source) who was dressed in body armor and had made threats to police on social media. He was arrested carrying four guns, including a shotgun, and a knife (source). The incident prompted the Phoenix Comicon to adjust its weapons policy, including the possession of replica weapons. Phoenix Comicon’s restrictions were very complete, including all edged weapons, firearms, archery weapons, and weapons from fictional sources, like lightsabers and phasers. In short, if it’s a weapon, it’s banned. 

Source: Fox10Phoenix

This has sparked other conventions coming up to make their weapons policy clear in advance of opening. Many conventions have to defer to the convention centers that are their venue. In light of the Phoenix incident, as well as other events that have involved someone targeting people with weapons, expect to see conventions and convention centers being very strict about replica weapons, and not just with cosplayers. Dealers that specialize in replica weapons, either for collectors or for cosplayers, are often forced to heavily change the way that they sell their wares. In Charlotte, those dealers have to ship customers their purchases after the convention, as convention center rules forbid the exchange of weapons on the floor.

Here is a copy of the full rules the Convention Center has laid down. As an aside, next month, Charlotte hosts a NRA meeting, for which absolutely no firearms are allowed to be carried inside. Cold, dead hands, indeed.


The Charlotte Convention Center prohibits the possession, sale and distribution of any items that may be considered a “dangerous weapon” on its premises.
“Dangerous Weapons” are defined as any object or device designed or intended to be used to inflict serious injury upon persons or property; including, but not limited to: firearms, knives of any kind or type having a blade in excess of three and one-half inches (3½”) in length, razors and razor blades, metallic knuckles, clubs, blackjacks and nightsticks, dynamite cartridges, bombs, grenades, mines and any other type of explosive, as well as loaded canes. (City Code 1961 § 13-38.1; Ord. No. 545, § 1, 8-11-80)

In compliance with the aforementioned regulations, the following items are no longer permitted for sale, or in the possession of persons, on the premises of the Charlotte Convention Center during the hours of the Heroes Convention:

Metal Swords (unsharpened or otherwise)
Knives (unsharpened or otherwise)
Throwing Stars (unsharpened or otherwise)
Darts (unsharpened or otherwise)
Brass Knuckles
Nunchaku, Blackjacks, Nightsticks, and Batons
Sais, Kamas, Hatchets, Tomahawks, Axes, Stylized Blades (ex: Wolverine-style Claws)
Fireworks (of any kind)

Wooden and plastic replica items are permitted by the Charlotte Convention Center.

You may DISPLAY-ONLY one item each from the above list of prohibited items and receive payment for orders to ship after the show. Under no circumstances may any metal weaponry of any kind, or any of the items from the prohibited items list, exchange ownership upon the premises of the Charlotte Convention Center during the hours of the Heroes Convention.
Failure to comply with these regulations will result in expulsion from the grounds of the Charlotte Convention Center and the Heroes Convention. Heroes Convention will not accept responsibility for any seizure of property, profit loss, or hardships incurred and will not issue a refund for any ticket, booth or table rental fees.

Cosplayers are finding the greatest challenge as they have to decide how to stay true to the character they are representing. Is a Deadpool cosplay accurate without guns or swords? Personally, I have a small daughter doing a Katana cosplay, and I have to prep her for the possibility that Convention Center security may ask her to leave the sword out of her cosplay, despite it being plastic and within the regulations the convention center has made public. My recommendation is for any cosplayers to not only check a convention’s web site, but the regulations for the venue. Let’s not anything ruin our fun.