The Tampa City Council on Thursday said they would ask Florida Gov. Rick Scott to ban firearms outside the Republican National Convention later this year.
The council has already issued a citywide ban on items like pieces of wood, switchblades, slingshots, containers of bodily fluids and even squirt guns. A so-called “Clean Zone” around the convention area would prohibit string longer than six inches, glass containers, light bulbs, portable shields and gas masks. A smaller protest area would prevent demonstrators from having camping gear, bottles, cans and umbrellas. The Secret Service has said that only law enforcement will be able to carry firearms inside of the convention center.
But Tampa now needs Scott’s help because state law prevents local governments from regulating guns. City officials believe that Scott has the executive power to temporarily suspend that law.
“We believe it is necessary and prudent to take this reasonable step to prevent a potential tragedy,” council member Lisa Montelione wrote in a draft of the letter to the governor.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has said that the state law makes the city “look silly.”
“The absurdity of banning squirt guns but not being able to do anything about real guns is patently obvious,” Buckhorn explained last week. “Given the nature and the potential dynamic of this event, I think it would make sense that you would not want firearms introduced into that environment by people other than law enforcement.”
The mayor suggested that Tampa could “become fodder for the late-night comics because of something that has nothing to do with us and nothing to do with our ability to control the situation, and it’s elevated by Trayvon Martin, obviously.”
Legal experts told the Tampa Bay Times that in the emotionally-charged protest environment, another tragedy could take place that was covered by Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law that allows gun owners to use deadly force in public places without a duty to retreat.
“Political leaders mindful of public safety should be able to solve Tampa’s gun control problem,” a New York Times editorial said earlier this month. “But there’s scant few of them in the statehouse. The scene developing in Tampa is a national embarrassment that spotlights how timorous American politicians are before the gun lobby.”
The National Rifle Association did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.