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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott turns down Tampa's request to ban guns outside Republican National Convention

Gov. Rick Scott is saying no to Tampa’s request to ban carrying concealed weapons outside the Republican National Convention, according to a letter from Scott to Mayor Bob Buckhorn. (Read the letter here.)

Buckhorn wrote to Scott Tuesday requesting that the governor issue an executive order prohibiting the transportation of firearms in downtown Tampa during the convention.

In a response dated the same day, Scott suggests that Tampa is overreaching in its request. Already, he says, the Secret Service will ban firearms inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum itself as well as in a security perimeter immediately around the convention campus.

“You are now requesting that citizens be disarmed in all of downtown Tampa, including in areas across the river, and distant, from the convention center and Secret Service safe zone,” Scott wrote.

A 2011 law passed by the Legislature pre-empts cities and counties from passing local laws regulating firearms or ammunition.

As a result, Tampa plans to ban many weapons (clubs, slingshots, brass knuckles) and items that could be used as weapons (crowbars, glass bottles, water pistols) outside the Aug. 27-30 convention — but it cannot ban guns carried with a state concealed weapons permit.

Amid the highly charged protests near the convention, someone with a concealed weapon could end up in an incident covered by Florida’s “stand your ground” law, according to legal experts. That’s the law that has fueled 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.

In his letter to Scott, Buckhorn noted that Florida’s firearms laws do not authorize anyone with a concealed-weapons permit to carry a gun into certain places, including athletic events, polling places and meetings of the Legislature.

“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,” Buckhorn said.

But Scott responded that “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.”

He further said “it is unclear how disarming law-abiding citizens would better protest 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.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 9:16am]


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