Weapons Policies at Sci Fi and Fantasy Conventions

Imagine, if you will, a Klingon without a weapon. How about Darth Vader without a light sabre? But try to get through the door of a Con with a 2-handed Claymore, and you may be sitting in the parking lot for the weekend. Most cons will allow weapons if they are part of a costume, but only if the weapon is peace tied, that is, strapped or tied to its sheath or carrier.

Dragoncon, held at the end of August in Atlanta, says this about their weapons policy: “All weapons must be non-working and peace bonded. No functioning projectile weapons includes water pistols, silly-string guns, and ping-pong pistols. Bladed weapons must be sheathed at all times.” It goes on to say that, anything that looks like a real gun will treated as a real gun and that they will not post bail.

Darkover, the Marion Zimmer Bradley based convention in Maryland around Thanksgiving each year, allows only knives and specifies they must be “sheathed and peace strapped at all times.”

The fear is not that the person will draw steel, though some have, hence the reason for the policy, but that someone else may. A friend on cast at the PA Renfaire was talking to a group of school kids when he felt someone touch his rapier. Another kid was attempting to get the rapier out of the baldric. Though patrons must have weapons peace tied, cast does not. Cast members are very careful and very protective of the weapons.

I carried a long bow and an arrow on cast one year, and opted to ditch the arrow. I had put the arrow down to motion with my hands while talking to a small group of kids, and had the presence of mind to put my knee on it, when one kid decided he wanted that arrow. After a brief tug-of-war and a peeling of his fingers off the arrow, I took it back to the prop room and never carried it again.

My feeling, and that of anyone who has weapons proficiency, is this: If you don’t know how to use it, don’t carry it. Anyone with training in the weapon knows how dangerous the weapon is, and will be more careful with it. I will carry a sword, knife, quarterstaff or bow, but since I have no experience with guns or gun safety, I wouldn’t carry even a prop gun. I also feel you should never draw or ready a weapon unless you intend to use it. People who draw a weapon to brandish it for show, or even to intimidate, are just asking for trouble.

Check with each faire or con before going to see what their policies are, but above all, check with the state to see what weapons are banned. The cons usually look into that first, but they may have neglected to post the information on their site.