It’s Cosplay Weapons Week here at Temple of Geek. It is also Labor Day weekend in the United States. A 3-Day Weekend means plenty of Comic Book and Pop Culture Conventions will be going on around the country. Conventions like San Francisco Comic Con, DragonCon in Atlanta, Long Beach Comic Con, and Fan Expo, will bring together thousands of geek enthusiasts over the 3 day weekend. Whenever you have large crowds coming together safety is a top priority for organizers at these events. Lately the cosplay community has seen it’s share of safety related changes at conventions. The biggest changes are mainly related to the use of cosplay weapons and props.
The Reason for Changes:
This past May at Phoenix Comic Con, a cosplayer who was believed to be mentally ill, was arrested at Phoenix Comic Con. As reported by the New York Post, Mathew Enrique Nava Sterling, told detectives he was a crime-fighting comic book character and planned to shoot bad police officers. Police were alerted to the situation by someone who saw his Facebook posts about killing officers at the Phoenix Comic Con. Out of an abundance of precaution, Phoenix Comic Con implemented a “No Props and No Cosplay Weapons” policy for the remainder of the convention. Since then many conventions have followed suit and implemented similar policies. All aimed at keeping their conventions safe.
These new changes have affected many of the Cosplayers who attend those cons. Many asking themselves if these new policies are actually working to protect attendees or just a case of one person ruining the fun for everyone else. In July at San Diego International Comic Con, cosplayers were asked to zip tie their weapons to their holsters or to their bodies. Long Beach Comic Con put out at statement stating “In response to the growing concerns of attendees, guests, and exhibitors of Long Beach Comic Con, we have re-visited our prop weapons guidelines and will be instituting new rules to better ensure the safety and peace of mind of all who attend. Our primary policy change will be prohibiting the use of any prop with the appearance of a gun. You’ll find the rest of our guidelines are much as they were before with metal-bladed weapons, blunt weapons, hard prop replica weapons made of metal, wood, fiberglass, and glass not allowed on the premises.”
How Did Cosplayers React To The New Policies?
We asked cosplayers two questions about the new policies.
- How do you feel about the new cosplay weapons policies?
- How does the no weapons or zip tied weapons policy affect your cosplay?
Below is what they had to say:
Allison Joy Taitano:
“Well, I’d say i have mixed feeling about it. I think its a good policy for everyone’s safety but at the same time I think they should have better security at cons. I’m assuming the stricter weapon restriction is due to the guy at that con in AZ. But he snuck into a back door that wasn’t guarded by security. If they would check props before they’re brought into the building and guarded every unlocked entrance than I don’t see why prop weapons would be an issue. The policy for LBCC before was that you couldn’t bring weapons made of hard materials like glass or metal, which I understand. But now you can’t even bring a gun made out of foam. So now what, Halo Spartans have to walk around without a gun? Props are what make or break some peoples costumes. Everyone’s safety is the most important, but I think there are different ways they could go about it, be just as safe, and allow props.” – https://www.instagram.com/spidermaiden/
Christina Byron Silvoso:
“I want the con to be safe, but I also find it incredibly annoying. Obviously my guns aren’t real, they’re foam and barely the right shape. And my kids’ guns are 3D printed. The regular weapons check would’ve discovered that they were plastic. I don’t see why we need to have them attached as well. My cosplays for Long Beach Comic Con don’t have weapons, but my kids do. Thankfully they don’t care if they have them or not. They play with them at home enough that I feel like they aren’t wasted. I’d rather leave them at home instead of zip tying them to our cosplays. I did see some clever people at SDCC used stretch elastic to attach their weapons. They were still able to pose with them.” – https://www.instagram.com/christina.is.crafty/
” I hate the new restrictions on weapons. I think it’s both excessive and ineffective at actually achieving the intended purpose of increased safety. It does make me reconsider my cosplay choices sometimes. Some of the more restrictive policies almost defeat the purpose of having a nice prop if it’s rendered useless.” – https://www.instagram.com/moshpitavenger/
“I think there is both good and bad in it,it takes away from the cosplay and people’s creativity to add a ton more to their cosplay. Then on the other hand at least you don’t have to carry anything around all day. There’s less of a chance of someone bringing something dangerous to a con. i’m just going with the flow.” – https://www.instagram.com/woman_of_web/
“I feel the new restrictions on weapons is a double edge sword. I totally understand where they’re coming from for safety of others, but there should also be a line drawn from reality and fictional weapons. The zip tided weapons can be frustrating at times.. It’s great that you can still have the weapon with you, but it makes it hard to do pose for a photo shoot when you have no range of action or can use it.” –https://www.instagram.com/latino_joker/
“Before I answer your questions, I wanted to share a story with you. For SDCC in 2016, I went in cosplay as Rick Flag as part of a Suicide Squad group. That cosplay called for an HK416 rifle and a 9mm pistol. I had both, and both were airsoft guns that were disabled. The night before the convention I was walking outside the hall and saw two San Diego Police Officers. I decided to approach them and discuss my cosplay. I described to them my cosplay and told them that not only would I be in the convention center, but I would most likely be wearing it outside as well. Their advice to me was simple. They understood that there would be a lot of prop weapons downtown that weekend, but told me if I was ever approached by an officer and I followed their instructions there would be no problems. I wore that cosplay all weekend and had no issue. When I actually got to the hall the next day, the weapons check people not only zip tied my guns to prove they were safe, but they zip tied them close to my body so I couldn’t draw. That part was annoying because it was inhibited certain poses for pictures, but I get why they did it. About three weeks later I wore that same cosplay to HVFF in San Jose and was turned away at the door and told to come back without my weapons. No weapons check. They were simply denying all guns. To answer your questions: I don’t like the new weapons policies. I think that if something can make it through weapons check it should be allowed. As long as something is disabled and cannot fire (modified nerf gun, modified airsoft, custom built prop) then it should be allowed. That’s what weapons checks are for. I am all for safety, but blanket policies inhibit expression. I have not worn a cosplay with a gun/rifle since I was turned away last year. It’s not worth the hassle. And as I previously mentioned, when a weapon is zip tied to the point it cant’ be drawn it limits photo opportunities. If it is zip tied to shown that it’s been checked, that’s perfectly fine.” – https://www.instagram.com/jayperiod/
“Well, in my experience, the policies vary from con to con. I’ve done some with no weapons allowed (which is rather silly), some where everything must be peace bound (because attaching removable PVC lightsabers to a fabric belt totally makes sense), and others where they were just zip tied to mark that they’d been checked. Personally, as much as I’d like to say we should be allowed to carry our creations, it ultimately becomes the convention’s decision on what to permit. As for zip ties, my Mando bowcaster has a collection! I’ve just practiced hiding the ties for photos and editing them out if they show. If a weapons policy is implemented, they can’t logically pick and choose what to allow or ban. You can’t allow lightsabers and not let in swords, you know? They’re doing the best they can to be fair and equal.” – https://www.instagram.com/cosplaymeg/
How do you guys feel about the changes? What are your feelings, concerns and suggestions about cosplay weapons policies at cons? Let us know in the comments.
Born and raised under the California sun. Monica can be found around the Southern California comic book and pop culture convention scene. She can usually be seen either behind the lens of her camera or in cosplay. Lover of all things geeks but especially Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Star Trek.