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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mayor asks Gov. Rick Scott to ban concealed guns in downtown Tampa during RNC

 Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn Tuesday asked Gov. Rick Scott to prohibit the carrying of guns in downtown Tampa during the Republican National Convention.

It’s something the city cannot do itself because Florida law bans cities from passing any local laws pertaining to firearms, but Buckhorn said city officials believe it’s necessary to ban guns, including those carried with a state concealed weapons permit.

“Normally, licensed firearms carried in accordance with the Florida statute requirements do not pose a significant threat to the public,” Buckhorn said in a two-page letter sent to Scott. “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.”

A 2011 law passed by the Legislature pre-empts cities and counties from passing laws regulating firearms or ammunition. As a result, Tampa plans to ban a wide range of weapons (clubs, switchblades, Mace) and things that could be used as weapons (chains, glass bottles, water pistols) outside the Aug. 27-30 convention, but it cannot prohibit guns carried with a state concealed weapons permit.

Legal experts have said that, in the highly charged atmosphere of protests around the convention, someone with concealed weapon could end up in an incident covered by Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which is fueling the controversy over a neighborhood watch volunteer’s fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford.

Buckhorn wants to ban carrying concealed firearms inside the city’s proposed “Event Zone,” which covers downtown and a few surrounding areas.

The mayor’s letter to Scott noted that the state’s firearms law does not authorize anyone to carry a concealed weapon in a place where he said “a firearm would not be needed for self-defense, but instead (would) create an unnecessary threat of injury and harm to bystanders.”

“Those places include athletic events, polling places and meetings of the Legislature,” Buckhorn said. “An event like the RNC may not have been contemplated at the time these statutes were enacted, but the city strongly believes that the RNC meets the spirit of the exemptions.”

Full story here.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2012 2:57pm]


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