Earlier this month, Tampa Bay Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s attempt to ban guns in designated “clean zones” surrounding the Republican National Convention was emphatically rebuffed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
As Guns.com reported back in April, Mayor Buckhorn drafted a letter imploring Gov. Scott to override the state’s pre-emption law, which prevents cities and local municipalities from regulating firearms, to institute a temporary ban on concealed carry (for more on the law, click here).
“Normally, licensed firearms carried in accordance with the Florida statute requirements do not pose a significant threat to the public,” the mayor wrote in his two-page letter.
“However, in the potentially contentious environment surrounding the RNC, a firearm unnecessarily increases the threat of imminent harm and injury to the residents and visitors of the city.”
The convention is expected to draw thousands of spectators, protestors and political enthusiasts during the four-day event (August 27 to 30).
It should be noted that city leaders are not concerned with the convention itself — as the federal government has already dubbed the convention a “National Special Security Event,” which gives the Secret Service the power to ban firearms — but they’re worried about the “clean zones” they’ve set up around the Secret Service perimeter.
Buckhorn has already set strict guidelines for what’s not allowed in the “clean zones,” a list that includes everything from gas masks to string longer than six inches (for the list of banned items, click here). The one item not on the list is guns.
“As governor, you have the duty to meet dangers presented by events such as the RNC where there is a threat of substantial injury or harm to Florida residents and visitors to the state,” Buckhorn continued.
In a well-worded statement, Scott responded to Buckhorn’s concern, pointing out the key flaw within his reasoning and defending the people’s right to bear arms:
Like you, I share the concern that “violent anti-government protests or other civil unrest” can pose “dangers” and the “threat of substantial injury or harm to Florida residents and visitors to the state.” But it is unclear how disarming law-abiding citizens would better protect them from the dangers and threats posed by those who would flout the law.
It is at just such times that the constitutional right to self defense is most precious and must be protected from government overreach. I am confident that the many federal, state and local law enforcement agencies focused on the RNC will fully protect Floridians and visitors, without the need to resort to sweeping infringements on our most sacred constitutional traditions.
We have had political conventions in this country since the dawn of the Republic. They are an essential means of furthering our Constitutional rights of free speech and to vote. Our fundamental right to keep and bear arms has coexisted with these freedoms for just as long, and I see no reason to depart from that tradition this year.
(I couldn’t have said it any better)
Following the rejection letter, Buckhorn said he was “disappointed” in Scott’s decision.
“My job as mayor first and foremost is to protect the people of my city, and the law enforcement who serve on the front lines,” Buckhorn wrote in a statement.
He added, “While I proudly support the Second Amendment and have held a concealed weapon permit myself, I believe this was a workable, temporary solution. Gov. Scott made his position clear. I am disappointed, but we will plan and train accordingly.”
Certainly, Gov. Scott made his position painfully clear to supporters of the ban. Nevertheless, and in the wake of the rejection, the Tampa City Council voted to make its own appeal to Gov. Scott asking him to enact a gun ban.
“We believe it is necessary and prudent to take this reasonable step to prevent a potential tragedy,” council member Lisa Montelione wrote in a letter.
(RNC Photos Courtesy of USA Today)