In anticipation of the RNC, which will be held in Tampa, Florida August 27-30, Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn sent a letter Tuesday to Florida governor Rick Scott, requesting that he issue an executive order banning people from carrying guns in downtown areas where people would gather for the convention. Apparently Florida's gun laws, among the most liberal in the nation, do not allow local governments to pass ordinances that will interfere with a citizen's rights with respect to firearms without executive approval. Scott, who was endorsed by the NRA in 2010 and given a grade of "A" by that organization, responded with this swift, predictable reply:
The short answer is found in the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and in Article 1, Section 8 of the Florida Constitution. These provisions guarantee that the government may not infringe the people's right "to keep and bear arms." The United States Supreme Court has explained that those rights have real force, and that government bans on firearms are generally impermissible. 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 entire neighborhoods and regions would surely violate the 2nd Amendment.Buckhorn, noted in his letter that the city plans to ban gas masks, hatchets, chains and super-soakers, and will look "just plain silly" if they do not also have the power to also ban concealed weapons within the "event zone".
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.Mayor Buckhorn has made it clear that he expects at least the possibility of trouble at this year's RNC:
(From his letter to Governor Scott)
As governor, you have the duty to meet dangers presented by events such as the RNC where there is a threat of substantial injury and harm to Florida residents and visitors to the state.(And...)
Some of the people who will be here in August are not exactly model citizens and that there are some people who are coming here with intent on causing mayhem," he said in a press conference Wednesday.Among concerns is the fear that highly charged protesters could find themselves in an incident covered by Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law - the law that fueled the recent Trayvon Martin tragedy in Sanford, Florida.
But, ever the optimist, Governor Scott passed the buck/expressed nothing but confidence in local law enforcement for the potentially nightmarish position he's put them in:
I am confident that the many state, federal, and local law enforcement focused on the RNC will fully protect Floridians and visitors, without the need to resort to sweeping infringements on our most sacred constitutional traditions.Hmm... Does this put anyone else in mind of events where President Obama was confronted by armed gunmen when touring the nation speaking about his healthcare plan?
Oh, and the turn-around time on the letter? Letter sent: May 1. Letter answered: May 1. Good thing Governor Scott had the NRA on speed-dial, huh?