Executive Order to Ban Concealed Carry
Rob Houglum LeadLinkMedia.com Friday, April 27, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. -- The many thousands of demonstrators predicted at the Democratic and Republican state conventions can come fitted out with a load more than signs and slogans : State law in Florida and North Carolina permits hidden weapons, including guns.
In Tampa, where the RNC will hold its festivities this autumn, officials are beginning to fret about folks toting guns in such a politically-charged environment. The Town Council voted Thursday to ask Republican Gov. Rick Scott to help them temporarily ban concealed weapons. Charlotte officers have yet to publically voice concern, but with both cities making an attempt to balance public safety with First and 2nd Change rights, it's likely the host city for the Democratic convention will also have to address the issue.
The Tampa Town Council wants Scott to distibute an executive order, forestalling folk with hidden weapons permits from carrying guns.
"We believe it's a necessity and judicious to take this reasonable step to prevent a potential tragedy," council member Lisa Montelione claimed in a draft letter to Scott.
Tampa city leaders have recently suggested a number of banned items ( lumber, hatchets, gas masks, chains and "super soaker" water cannons ) - but they're prevented from outlawing concealed guns. Florida and North Carolina have laws prohibiting local officers from pre-empting state gun statutes.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn declared the state law has made the town "look silly," especially because officials can ban water guns although not real ones.
"We're sort of restricted by the state law," he announced.
Charlotte officials also believe they're hamstrung.
"We can't change what the state legislature has in place," said Mark Newbold, a solicitor with the police department.
Many thousands of delegates, correspondents and political junkies will stream into the medium sized cities for the multi-day conventions. Republicans hold their event at the Tampa Bay Times Arena during August. 27-30. The Democrats ' party is seven days later at the time Warner Wire Arena. Within the arenas, the Secret Service has banned civilians from carrying guns.
Both cities have hosted large gatherings before - Tampa has held four Super Bowls and Charlotte has entertained the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball contest and the Nation's Rifle Organisation convention - but neither has actually experienced an event such as this.
In the last 50 years, political conventions have become a magnet for demonstrators, and they have often turned repulsive.
In 1968, demonstrators attempted to interrupt the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Scenes of police clashing with protesters on the streets played on telly screens in living rooms across America. 4 years later, anti-war protesters disturbed the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach.
More lately, thousands of protesters descended on St. Paul, Minn, in 2008, when the city hosted the Republican Countrywide Convention. Some demonstrators smashed cars, punctured tires and threw bottles in a confrontation with pepper-spray using police. Masses of folks were captured over a couple of days.
"Everything we do is founded upon something that happened at another convention or another state security event," Tampa Town Solicitor Jim Shimberg said.
The federal government has given $50 million each to Charlotte and Tampa to help them pay for new security-related apparatus, coaching and officer salaries.
Tampa is proposing a "Clean Zone" protest area with compact toilets, water, a stage and a mic for objectors. Outside that area, folks will be allowed to march down an official parade route as long as they have a permit.
The precise position of the protest areas and security perimeter will be decided by the city commission in the coming weeks.
Joyce Hamilton Henry, the director of the mid-Florida office of the North American Civil Freedoms Union, declared her organization is worried about protests that'll be restricted to 60 minutes, and a ban on masks.
"We feel it is extremely impractical, especially if groups are coming in with enormous numbers," Hamilton Henry related.
The Tampa Police Office is anticipated to revolve almost all of its 1,000-officer force into convention security in the event, which could draw up to 45,000 folk. An additional three thousand officials from other agencies around the state will help.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department plans to add 2,400 to 3,400 officials from outside departments to its force of more than 1,750.
For the convention there, a coalition of groups has formed because they announced they're indignant the town has declined to share information regarding where they can gather.
The Coalition to Protest at the DNC has promised to gather without authorizes, and promised a great demonstration Sept. 2 in what they call the Wall Street of the South.
Charlotte, a city of 760,000 folk, is home to Bank of America Company, one of the state's biggest banks.
"This is a thing we have to do. They cannot stop our right to protest," said Ben Carroll, a coalition spokesman.
Members of the coalition said they're still irritated about how police in Feb disbanded an Occupy Charlotte tent city on the grass outside of the old Town Hall. Demonstrators had been camped there since October.
The move came one week after Charlotte adopted an extraordinary event ordinance proscribing political demonstrations before this year's convention. The new rules give police more power to stop and search folk when the convention comes to the city. And people will not be allowed to carry back-packs and other items in elected areas.
Tags: Second Amendment, 2nd Amendment, Florida Second Amendment