Cosplay Weapons & Con Safety

Let’s talk about the ongoing debate over weaponry and prop regulations at Conventions.

Warbla Warfare: The Discussion of Weapons Regulations

As a Cosplayer, it is often the accessories that set a Cosplay project apart from the rest. Attention to detail can make a huge difference between a closet cosplay and a competition masterpiece. Since a large amount of cosplay characters are militant in some way or another, weaponry is often a heavily featured aspect of many Cosplays. This season in particular, however, many Cosplayers have found themselves incredibly disappointed by an ever increasing amount of censoring regarding their right to bear prop arms at the conventions they know and love. A poignant article from Bonnie Burton at CNet sheds some light on this topic.

Who Gets the Guns

At a most conventions, a volunteer organization is tapped to run a weapons check booth, ensuring that real weapons do not make it onto the show floor, and that any potentially harmful items are safely sheathed and rendered harmless. While they may take on an official capacity at such conventions, it is not always an organization run by officers of the law or people who have extensive training in this field. The Colorado Springs S.T.A.R.S Division is an excellent example of these volunteers, and is made up of several local law enforcement members who donate their time to convention safety procedures. They are friendly, knowledgeable of both Cosplay and weapon practices, and never fail to educate Con-Goers on why their items are safe or not. I have worked with them for a few years, and am always excited to see them representing a convention.

Shifting Security Standards

While most conventions have a practice of allowing prop weaponry onto their show floors, some are moving to a much more stringent policy, allowing little or no weapons into their halls. Even items that in no way resemble functioning weapons are coming under fire, upsetting a large amount of the cosplay community which relies on these props to carry their garb through to more authentic levels. One of the biggest concerns here lies in the lack of ability for most conventions to hire actual law enforcement to thoroughly check for weapons.

The Future of Cosplay Weaponry

While cosplayers who carry obvious props are easy to see and regulate, it is much harder to spot the “concealed carries” in a crowd. As such, they slip past the entries for conventions relatively unbothered. It seems a disappointing waste in resources and creative potential to crack down in this fashion. The real purpose here is safety of convention attendees, but it is unlikely that creating limitations like these will actually go the distance to avoiding future weapon related incidents.  While the intention is good, this might just serve to shut down future cosplay potential, which can discouraging Cosplayers from attending larger conventions.


What are your thoughts on this topic? Do you think these new regulations are sound? Or is this an unecessary disappointment? We want to know!


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  • Damistar

    While it is extremely unlikely that any cosplayer would bring a real or dangerous weapon to a con, I can understand the hosts caution. If just one incident of violence and serious injury occurs they will be held liable and it will hurt the whole industry. I think the cosplayers will just have to accept that this is the world we live in.

  • Jeremy Larson

    Honestly I have absolutely no concerns about carrying props on the show floor. I’m more concerned about the cosplayer’s safety outside of the show hall during transit. Sad to say, but I think it’s more likely some trigger-happy cop will shoot a cosplayer than a cosplayer will harm another with prop weapons.

    • georgelabour

      That’s already happened. Which is another reason for the restrictions.

      However I think the most obvious reason is one borne out of the current climate spawned by certain acts of terrorism on behalf of a certain ideology.

      If some bigot can gun down a night club or holiday party in the name of his ideals and or presidential candidate then a convention is an equally likely target.

      Obviously such restrictions won’t actually stop them but people do like to feel they’ve done their best to prevent tragedies.

    • Mud_Duck

      I wonder about the cops shooting someone, as I would think that the Police in the area would know that there was a con in the area and have some idea what is involved. As for it happening already, I haven’t seen any reporting on the case (Darrien Hunt) that has information that a con was accruing in the area, only that he was dressed in a red shirt and blue pants in the style of Mugen, carrying a 2 1/2 foot sword and he was, quoting a bystander “had his earbuds in, and was kind of doing spins and stuff, like pretending he’s a samurai.”
      Now someone calls the cops, saying something along the lines of “there’s a guy swinging a sword outside, and acting crazy”, the cops show up thinking that there is a crazy guy swinging a sword around, with no idea that Darrien is Cosplaying, order him to the ground, which he can’t hear because of the earbuds, (over)react to something (maybe him removing a bud from his ear and shoots. To which Darrien reacts like most everyone would and runs for it, NOT dropping the sword which the cops perceives as a continuation of the ‘threat’ to the public, and continues the use of deadly force.

      I would say that it is more of an insurance thing then anything else, both for the Con and the Venue, just think of the lawsuits if some idiot brought a live gun into a con and accidentally shot someone. “But, but I didn’t think that it was loaded!” The carpet bombing of lawsuits on anything remotely related to the Con would bankrupt a small country.

  • Mud_Duck

    Question. Spot “concealed carries”? Legal or illegal? If the carrier is legal, you shouldn’t see the weapon, as that could be consider

    Brandishing the weapon, and could result in finds and loss of the weapon. Plus, if it’s a legal CCW it may be up to the Venue and not the Con if the carrier can carry. Either way, if a concealed weapon comes out, legal or illegal, the cops are probably getting sent out.
    Second question. Where’s the last picture from?

    • I think that’s a reference to cosplayers concealing less obvious/small weapons vs those that have swords and large prop guns rather than a CC firearm.

    • Deathwing

      In Texas its pretty easy. The con just puts up a 30.06 and 30.07 sign at all entrances to the con floor and that lets LTC people that thought about carrying live weapons know they legally cant there. On the flip side starting in Sept its legal to carry any and all knives and bladed weapons anywhere in the state, so that is going to make things interesting for the Cons.

    • Jennifer Lynn Larsen

      the archery picture was taken three weeks ago at the Sherwood Forest Faire Summer Camp, where I was competing in the Flying Hun’s Archery Competition. The 1960’s Catwoman image was taken at TACTICON in Colorado last fall.

  • euansmith

    Interesting stuff.

  • Anthony Shannon

    Behold the effect of mainstreaming. Nobody cared before cons were invaded by normies.

    • Jabberwokk

      Damn straight.

      What’s guts without Dragon Slayer?

      Or Vash with out his .45 long colt?

      City kids…..bunch a spoiled tame wannabe’s. Always wanting to be the badass till it’s time to do badass things. I’m glad I grew up in small towns far away from the bureaucratic nonsense of city life. We blew up cans of WD-40, dry ice bombs, and most farmers had an arsenal that dwarfed the local police force. We used to go to the dump and shoot everything we could find. Amazingly no one died and the only people I ever heard getting hurt were idiots who don’t know how to check their aim or keep their finger off the trigger. Move to the city and everyone’s afraid of their own damn shadow.