Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) strongly rejected a request by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (D) that he consider temporarily banning guns in the downtown area during this summer’s Republican National Convention. The city has already restricted sticks, polls, and water guns as it hosts the quadrennial nominating convention — but under Florida law, it cannot prevent protesters and others from carrying guns.
Buckhorn had asked the governor to step in, noting that while “Normally, licensed firearms carried in accordance with the Florida statute requirements do not pose a significant threat to the public,” 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.”
In a letter, Scott told Buckhorn:
You note that the City’s temporary ordinance regulates “sticks, poles, and water guns,” but that firearms are a “noticeable item missing from the City’s temporary ordinance.” Firearms are noticeably included, however, in the 2nd Amendment. The choice to allow the government to ban sticks and poles, but not firearms, is on that the People made in enacting their state and federal constitutions.
Like you, I share the concern that “violent anti-government protests or other civil unrest” can pose “dangers” and the “threat of substantial injury or harm to Florida residents visitors to the State.” But it is unclear how disarming law-abiding citizens would better protect them from the dangers and threats posted 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.
Scott concluded his letter arguing that political conventions and gun rights have coexisted since the dawn of the Republic and saying “I see no reason to depart from that tradition this year.
Less than two years after a mentally ill political opponent of Rep. Gabby Giffords used a pistol to kill six people and wound 13 more, it seems that the Democratic mayor’s efforts to ensure the safety of those attending the Republican convention might have received a more thoughtful response.