While comic conventions and fandom are still coming to terms regarding the disturbing incident that took place last Thursday at the Phoenix Comicon, where a man wearing body armor brought several loaded guns in an apparent plan to kill actor Jason David Frank, the question remains of how this incident will change policies at cons moving forward, especially as it relates to prop & weapons cosplay.
We reached out to several cons to find out more about their policies and if there are any plans to change in the wake of what occurred in Phoenix.
Cliff Galbraith, who owns the East Coast Comic Con, as well as a new con that will happen in Atlantic City, NJ responded, “We have been moving toward banning certain props, now we’ll be stricter. It’s time to ban all weapons and search backpacks bags, etc. Obviously, there’s increased concern over guns, but also large, unruly plastic spears, swords and other props that can inadvertently injure. Weapons, real or props need to go.”
The folks who put on the Raleigh Supercon (July 14-16) and Florida Supercon (July 27-30) aren’t planning to go quite as far, telling us, “We will not take extreme measures such as banning all props, but we will make a decision that supports fandoms and safety for all involved.”
Brockton McKinney, the Creative Director for the Greensboro Comicon (September 16 & 17) replied, “We have always taken our props/weapons policies very seriously, as we consider the safety of our shows paramount. We ban almost all weapons already, but I’m meeting with the directors this week and will hit you up with any changes we decide to implement.”
Mitch Hallock, whose TerrifiCon (August 18-20) is held at a casino resort and so is subject to more security scrutiny told us, “Obviously, the safety of our attendees and guests is of paramount importance. We outline what is and isn’t allowed with regards to cosplay on our website. In addition we defer to the Mohegan Sun police department, whatever they decide is policy. Since we started doing comic conventions there in 2015, they have worked with us and done a top notch job protecting the attendees and ensuring that it a safe and fun environment.”
Chris Latshaw, who owns the upcoming North Texas Comic Book Show (July 15-16) in the Dallas area responded, “At this time we have not made a decision on a cosplay weapons ban. Due to our smaller size we have been able to manage inspections without issue. This will be in discussion over the next week to determine what is best for the safety of our guests and cosplayers. If we were a larger convention then there would be no question on the ban. It is likely we will follow suit nonetheless.”
Motor City Comic Con, which just had their 2017 con told us, ““Motor City Comic Con has always been committed to the safety of their patrons and the comic and media guests. As we do each year, we will re-examine our safety policies and procedures prior to the 2018 event, and adjust accordingly.”
Other cons such as Baltimore Comic Con (Septemer 22-24) had already strengthened their weapons policies and banned all prop weapons prior to Phoenix, and Denver Comic Con announced their changes immediately after.
Interestingly, Shannon Toohey from the Heroes & Villains Fan Fest Conventions did reply to us, but did so by saying, “Thank you so much for thinking of us but unfortunately we need to pass on this opportunity.” It is worth noting that the Heroes & Villains Fan Fest Conventions web site also has no weapons or prop policy on their website.
We did not receive a reply from Niagara Falls Comic Con, HeroesCon or Dragon Con. It is worth noting that Dragon Con has previously had their “Armory” where real and prop weapons are exhibited, sponsored by a real firearms manufacturer, DS Arms, who also tried to exhibit at a Wizord World Convention by purchasing a booth through a third-party.