Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has officially rejected a proposal by the city of Tampa to limit firearms outside the Republican National Convention in Florida later this year.
Last week, the Tampa City Council formally asked Scott to use his executive power to temporarily suspend a state law that prevents local governments from regulating guns.
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.
Council member Lisa Montelione told Scott that a gun ban was necessary to “prevent a potential tragedy.”
“The short answer to your request is found in the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 8 of the Florida Constitution,” Scott said in his letter to the council (PDF). “While the government may enforce longstanding prohibitions on the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, an absolute ban on possession in entire neighborhoods and regions would surely violate the 2nd Amendment.”
“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,” he added.
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. “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.
(h/t: Talking Points Memo)