Back in May, a heavily armed man was arrested trying to bring several guns, knives, body armor, and other handheld weapons into Phoenix Comic Con. His mission: kill former Green Power Ranger Jason David Frank. No, seriously. Luckily, the man was captured before he could cause any harm, but the incident did result in Phoenix Comic Con banning all cosplay weapons and prop weapons from the convention floor and forcing vendors who sell them to wrap them up, where they needed to remain for the duration of the show.
Bleeding Cool's Dan Wickline speculated that this could have lasting repercussions for future shows:
This is not the first time a violent situation has occurred at a convention, but we as a community have been lucky up until this point. The incident in Phoenix will have convention promoters across the country starting to review their own security procedures. Imagine if wands and bag checks become a regular thing at the San Diego Comic Con. This is the true fall out of what happened last weekend… how conventions will change going forward or what will happen if they don't.
And indeed, weapons policies have tightened at shows, including at the upcoming Anime Expo, happening July 1 – July 5 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Anime Expo's weapons policy, promoted as recently on their Facebook page on June 21, states:
Prop Weapons Are Allowed Only If They Are Peace-Bonded by Weapons Check.
Prop weapons are inoperable weapons that support the overall look of your costume or character. For example, plastic Airsoft guns, Nerf guns, water guns, dart guns, disc guns, pellet guns, and cap guns are prop weapons.
Prop weapons must be submitted to "Weapons Check" for Peace Bonding. SPJA has the sole discretion to approve prop weapons. Anime Expo's Weapons Check booths are located in both the South Hall Lobby and the West Hall Lobby. Other Event Weapons Check booths shall be designated in the programs and on signs.
We may revoke Peace Bonding at any time in our sole discretion. For example, we will revoke approval if you use or brandish the item in an inappropriate fashion (like play-fighting, swinging the weapon around, or if someone is hit intentionally or otherwise). We will also revoke approval if we receive complaints about the way you are using or displaying your prop weapon or futuristic device, or if you tamper with the device that Weapons Check uses to show that your prop weapon has been Peace Bonded.
If you buy a prop or other weapons at the Event, you must immediately submit it to Weapons Check or immediately remove it from the Event hall.
But it looks like weapons could now be banned entirely. According to an email sent out last night and posted by a vendor on Facebook, Anime Expo is banning the sales fulfillment of all costume weapons at the show, wrapped or not, not of their own volition, but by mandate of the Los Angeles Police Department:
And if the mandate is coming from the LAPD, and not the convention, could we see control over weapons policies taken away from conventions and placed in the hands of local police departments, who are less likely to sympathize with the desires of cosplayers or prop weapons vendors?
We reached out to Susan Celli of IRL events, listed as the sender of the email above. However, Celli directed us to speak with Mark Manansala, CEO of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the organizers of Anime Expo. Celli neither confirmed nor denied sending the email. We have not yet received a response from SPJA.
Note: This article was updated to clarify that it is technically weapons sales fulfillment, not sales themselves, that are banned from the show.