Friday, July 20, 2018
Politics

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

TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn on 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 of a block put in place by Florida law. 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. "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."

Scott's press office did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday, and it has not responded to three previous inquiries from the Tampa Bay Times about the city's desire for state help banning concealed weapons outside the convention.

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, he noted that Florida's firearms laws do not authorize anyone with a concealed-weapons permit to carry a gun into certain places where he said "a firearm would not be needed for self-defense, but instead (would) create an unnecessary threat of injury and harm to innocent 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."

Along with enacting a temporary ordinance setting ground rules for RNC protesters, Buckhorn said the city is increasing security, including using nearly 4,000 law enforcement personnel, "which should create a safe environment in the downtown area where a firearm should not be necessary for self-defense."

Buckhorn, a Democrat, owns a .38-caliber revolver and a .22-caliber rifle and has held a state concealed-weapons permit of his own. He said in his letter to Scott that Tampa officials respect the Second Amendment and understand the state's desire to provide uniform regulation of firearms.

But he said he hopes the state appreciates the seriousness of the need to secure the convention, one of the few events anywhere to be federally designated as a "National Special Security Event."

"As governor, you have the duty to meet dangers presented by events such as the RNC where there is a threat of substantial injury or harm to Florida residents and visitors to the state," Buckhorn concluded, asking for "an executive order prohibiting the transportation of firearms in downtown Tampa during the RNC. The time period of the regulation would be nominal since the RNC is only four days, and the location of the regulation would be limited only to the city's downtown area."

Last week, the Tampa City Council agreed to make an appeal of its own to Scott, saying in the draft of a similar letter by council member Lisa Montelione that "it is necessary and prudent to take this reasonable step to prevent a potential tragedy."

The Secret Service has said it will ban concealed weapons inside the convention, which will be held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The agency's federal authority overrides the state law in the area under its control, and it has said that only on-duty law enforcement officers will be allowed to take guns inside the convention's secure perimeter.

Richard Danielson can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403.

Comments
Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

TAMPA — Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and other countries are beginning to push up prices and depress demand in spots around the Tampa Bay area and Florida, business executives say."We’ve definitely seen that the tariffs have increased ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
March column: Is Congressional District 16 more flippable? What about District 15?

March column: Is Congressional District 16 more flippable? What about District 15?

In the wake of good fundraising news for Democrat David Shapiro, who is running against Rep. Vern Buchanan in Congressional District 16, political analysts are upping their odds of Shapiro’s winning. But what about Congressional District 15, where Re...
Published: 07/20/18
Trump says he’d have no problem beating former VP Biden in 2020

Trump says he’d have no problem beating former VP Biden in 2020

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump said in an interview broadcast Thursday that running against Joe Biden in 2020 would be "a dream," claiming that Barack Obama "took him out of the garbage heap" to make him his running mate in 2008.Trump was asked ...
Published: 07/19/18
At St. Pete rally, protesters call Trump’s remarks on Russia ‘treason’

At St. Pete rally, protesters call Trump’s remarks on Russia ‘treason’

ST. PETERSBURG — Linda and Jack Miller braved the humidity at Demens Landing on Wednesday night for a simple reason: "Treason," said Linda Miller, 66. The St. Petersburg couple joined more than 100 protesters toting signs, pins and megaphones...
Published: 07/18/18
Updated: 07/19/18
Meet the man who might have brought on the age of ‘downloadable guns’

Meet the man who might have brought on the age of ‘downloadable guns’

During the summer of 2012, Cody Wilson hung around J&J, a car-repair shop run by two "goofy" guys in their late 20s. The Austin warehouse was crowded with engine blocks, car parts and Pelican boxes that never seemed to have been opened, but the 24-ye...
Published: 07/18/18
‘She was like a novelty’: How alleged Russian agent Maria Butina gained access to elite conservative circles

‘She was like a novelty’: How alleged Russian agent Maria Butina gained access to elite conservative circles

WASHINGTON - For nearly five years, the young Russian political-science student was an unusual fixture at the most important events of the U.S. conservative movement.Maria Butina, who was indicted this week on charges of being a covert Russian agent,...
Published: 07/18/18
PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit

PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit

President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin made inaccurate statements to the media following their one-on-one talks in Helsinki about election meddling, global terrorism and nuclear nonproliferation.Here’s a rundown of our fact-checks.Trump:...
Published: 07/17/18
Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

JOHANNESBURG — Former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday took aim at "strongman politics" in his highest-profile speech since leaving office, urging people around the world to respect human rights and other values now under threat in an imp...
Published: 07/17/18
Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but you’re a hypocrite

Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but you’re a hypocrite

Hypocrisy, thy name is Rick Scott.And, yes, I owe Shakespeare an apology.But I think Florida’s governor owes all of us an apology.This isn’t about one man’s opinion, and it isn’t about philosophical differences. This is about a politician who is publ...
Published: 07/17/18
Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

HELSINKI — Standing next to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump openly questioned his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Moscow was to blame for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election to Trump’s benefit and seemed to accept Putin’s i...
Published: 07/16/18