Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Politics

On guns, justice, and Tampa's Man in Black: The week that was

From the week before Christmas, headlines to make you spit out your Starbucks:

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri training deputies to kill law-abiding gun owners

Spoiler alert: It's not actually true.

The sheriff was speaking sensibly to a reporter about an obvious potential flaw in the open-carry bill percolating in Tallahassee. Should it become law, people with concealed-weapons permits could walk around in public with guns out in the open.

Because, sure, what could go wrong?

Gualtieri was talking about a concern similarly expressed by others in law enforcement: What happens when deputies show up to the scene of, say, a silent alarm tripped at a 7-Eleven and a guy walking out with a legally holstered gun? Or a legally armed citizen in a bank that's being robbed?

How do police who arrive on the scene tell the good guys from the bad?

Gualtieri was saying those citizens could find themselves taken down by officers or even shot by that bank robber. Unfortunately, the published story lacked the full context of his quotes, prompting ridiculously headlined alerts and Web posts from open-carry enthusiasts implying the sheriff was looking to shoot the citizenry should this pass.

When, in fact, that's exactly what Gualtieri and others who oppose open-carry are hoping to avoid.

Serial killer Bolin is denied appeal, faces execution Jan. 7

After nearly 30 years since the murders of Stephanie Collins, Teri Lynn Matthews and Natalie Blanche Holley, after three mothers sat shoulder to shoulder through trials and retrials, after the circus sideshow of a death row killer marrying, after all the questions about life in prison versus the death penalty and justice delayed and denied, Oscar Ray Bolin is expected to be executed in the new year.

Small signs Tampa really is a city: Pardon me for getting all Chamber-of-Commercey here, but a just-before-dawn trip on the Riverwalk right now is a neat glimpse of Christmas trees in downtown offices and lights strung high across the balconies of Harbour Island.

And here's an interesting surprise on the walk: Currently docked behind the convention center turns out to be one of the Sea Shepherd vessels that aim to protect marine life including whales and hunted seals. According to the website, free tours of the ship run through Sunday.

And things we hope never change: Like a dapper Latin Johnny Cash, the Tampa City Council's elder statesman, Charlie Miranda, was up on the dais this week dressed all in black.

It was the same sort of mourning suit Miranda wore nearly 20 years ago to symbolically protest the burial of the taxpayer in funding a football stadium.

This week, he was the lone vote against $100 million deal in renovations for Raymond James Stadium. His suit could have done the talking, but Miranda eloquently reminded everyone anyway that it's possible to get robbed not just with a gun, but also a pen.

For the record, he had come to the meeting in a light blue jacket he felt was more appropriate for presenting an earlier-on-the-agenda award to the police officer of the month.

Then Miranda slipped in back and once again become Tampa's Man in Black.

Contact Sue Carlton at [email protected]

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