Florida Gov. Rick Scott is soundly rejecting a request from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to ban guns at the Republican National Convention.
Buckhorn wrote Scott a two-page letter on Tuesday asking Scott to temporarily prohibit the types of weapons the city cannot regulate, including guns carried with a state concealed-weapons permit, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
"Normally, licensed firearms carried in accordance with the Florida statute requirements do not pose a significant threat to the public," the mayor wrote. "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."
Thousands of protestors are expected to descend on Tampa during the August 27-30 convention, and they may be armed because of a state law allowing concealed weapons. Buckhorn implored Scott to issue an executive order banning firearms in downtown Tampa for those four days.
"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," he wrote.
Scott will respond to the mayor's request Wednesday morning in a letter obtained by Politico. The governor strongly defends the people's right to bear arms, even during the convention in downtown Tampa. Here's an excerpt:
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 and visitors to the state." But it is unclear how disarming law-abiding citizens would better protect them from the dangers and threats posed 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. I am confident that the many federal, state and local law enforcement agencies focused on the RNC will fully protect Floridians and visitors, without the need to resort to sweeping infringements on our most sacred constitutional traditions.
We have had political conventions in this country since the dawn of the Republic. They are an essential means of furthering our Constitutional rights of free speech and to vote. Our fundamental right to keep and bear arms has coexisted with these freedoms for just as long, and I see no reason to depart from that tradition this year.
Last week the Tampa City Council voted to make its own appeal to Scott asking him to temporarily ban concealed weapons.
"We believe it is necessary and prudent to take this reasonable step to prevent a potential tragedy," council member Lisa Montelione wrote in a draft letter.
North Carolina also has a law allowing concealed weapons, posing a similar threat to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
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