Guns, explosives, and selfie sticks banned from pope’s visit to DC

The pope’s rolling into D.C. next week and the Secret Service, understandably keen that nothing whatsoever goes wrong while he’s there, has issued a list of items banned from official papal events.

Just in case anyone was in any doubt, the Secret Service has deemed it necessary to state that should you wish to see Pope Francis you’ll have to leave your gun at home, along with any ammunition or explosives you might have knocking around. Nestled in the list mid-way between “mace/pepper spray” and “weapons of any kind” you’ll also find the humble selfie stick.

It’s not altogether clear why the stick has been slapped with a ban – are the authorities worried a clumsy owner could have the pope’s eye out? Or that a ne’er-do-well might use it to clobber the leader of the Catholic church? What is clear is that if you do turn up with one, the Secret Service will take it off you and trash it.

The much-maligned monopod has been hit with bans around the world ever since it started to gain popularity among smartphone users looking for an easier way to take selfies. Everywhere from art galleries to sports stadiums have been adjusting their entrance policies to ensure visitors leave their extendable devices at home.

The clampdown has even inspired a number of startups to design contraptions that help heavy users of selfie sticks  get around the ban.

Pope Francis arrives in Washington, D.C. on September 22 before heading to New York and Philadelphia. And yes, selfie sticks have been banned at pope-related events in those cities, too.