Executive Order to Ban Concealed Carry
Rob Houglum LeadLinkMedia.com Friday, April 27, 2012
TAMPA, Fla. -- The many thousands of demonstrators anticipated at the Democratic and Republican nationwide conventions can come supplied with a lot more than signs and slogans : State law in Florida and North Carolina allows concealed weapons, including guns.
In Tampa, where the RNC will hold its revels this autumn, officers are starting to stress about people toting guns in such a politically-charged environment. The Town Council voted Thursday to ask Republican Gov. Rick Scott to help them temporarily ban hidden firearms. Charlotte officials haven't begun to publically express concern, but with both towns attempting to balance public safety with First and 2nd Amendment rights, it's likely the host city for the Democratic convention will also have to deal with the problem.
The Tampa City Council wants Scott to give out an executive order, preventing folk with hidden weapons permits from carrying guns.
"We believe it's necessary and judicious to take this reasonable step to prevent a potential tragedy," council member Lisa Montelione said in a draft letter to Scott.
Tampa city leaders have already suggested a large number of banned items ( lumber, hatchets, gas masks, chains and "super soaker" water cannons ) - but they are stopped from outlawing hid guns. Florida and North Carolina have laws prohibiting local officials from pre-empting state gun statutes.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the state law has made the city "look silly," especially because officers can ban water guns though not real ones.
"We're sort of constricted by the state law," he claimed.
Charlotte officers also believe they're hamstrung.
"We can't change what the state legislature has in place," declared Mark Newbold, a lawyer with the police dept.
Tens of thousands of representatives, journalists and political addicts will stream into the mid-sized towns for the multi-day conventions. Republicans hold their event at the Tampa Bay Times Arena during August. 27-30. The Left wingers ' party is seven days later at the time Warner Wire Arena. Within the arenas, the Secret Service has banned civilians from carrying guns.
Both towns have hosted massive gatherings before - Tampa has held 4 Super Bowls and Charlotte has entertained the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball contest and the Nation's Rifle Organisation convention - but neither has really experienced an event like this.
In the last fifty years, political conventions have become a magnet for demonstrators, and they have sometimes turned ugly.
In 1968, protesters tried to disrupt the Democratic State Convention in Chicago. Scenes of police clashing with demonstrators on the streets played on telly screens in living rooms across America. 4 years on, anti-war demonstrators disrupted the Republican State Convention in Miami Beach.
More lately, thousands of protesters descended on St. Paul, Minn, in 2008, when the town hosted the Republican Nationwide Convention. Some protesters smashed cars, punctured tires and threw bottles in a clash with pepper-spray using police. Hundreds of people were captured over a few days.
"Everything we are doing is founded upon something that occurred at another convention or another national security event," Tampa Town Solicitor Jim Shimberg said.
The central government has given $50 million each to Charlotte and Tampa to help them pay for new security-related gear, training and officer wages.
Tampa is proposing a "Clean Zone" protest area with compact toilets, water, a stage and a mike for objectors. Outside that area, folk will be allowed to march down an official parade route as long as they have a permit.
The exact site of the protest zones and security perimeter will be decided by the city commission in the approaching weeks.
Joyce Hamilton Henry, the director of the mid-Florida office of the American Civil Freedoms Union, expounded her organization is worried about protests that will be restricted to 1 hour, and a ban on masks.
"We feel it is extremely unrealistic, especially if groups are coming in with giant numbers," Hamilton Henry related.
The Tampa Police Dep. is expected to rotate most of its 1,000-officer force into convention security in the event, which could draw up to 45,000 folks. An extra three thousand officers from other agencies round the state will help.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Dept plans to add 2,400 to 3,400 officers 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 irritated the town has refused to share information about where they can gather.
The Coalition to Protest at the DNC has promised to gather without permits, and promised a great demonstration Sept. 2 in what they call the The Street of the South.
Charlotte, a city of 760,000 folks, is home to B. O. A Company, one of the state's largest banks.
"This is something we have to do. They can't stop our right to protest," said Ben Carroll, a coalition spokesman.
Members of the coalition said they're still angry about how police in February disbanded an Occupy Charlotte tent city on the lawn outside of the old City Hall. Objectors had been camped there since October.
The move came one week after Charlotte adopted an extraordinary event ordinance restricting political demonstrations before this year's convention. The new rules give police more power to stop and search folks when the convention comes to town. And people won't be permitted to carry back packs and other items in chosen areas.
Tags: Second Amendment, 2nd Amendment, Florida Second Amendment