Concealed Firearms Could Be Allowed at RNC
If Tampa's proposed rules for the Republican National Convention are passed, protesters could bring real guns if they have concealed weapons permits.
That's because state law does not allow local governments to enact laws regulating guns, says a Tampa Bay Times report.
The first draft of Tampa's proposed temporary ordinance laying out rules for the convention did include restrictions on guns inside the city's proposed "Clean Zone," which will cover all of downtown, including a designated protest area.
But later, city attorneys removed the ban on guns after finding that Florida Statute 790.33 prohibits local governments from enacting any laws on the sale, purchase, transfer, taxation, manufacture, ownership, possession, storage or transportation of guns or ammunition, the report says.
Passed last year, the state law allows judgments of up to $100,000 against local governments that enforce local gun ordinances. It also says local officials could be removed from office and fined $5,000, with no representation from the city or county attorney.
After the Legislature passed the law, municipalities scrambled to revise local ordinances. Tampa repealed a ban on discharging a firearm in city limits, though it's still against state law.
There is, however, one place where guns won't be allowed, says the report. That's the convention itself, and it's because the U.S. Secret Service has authority to make the rules inside the convention, which is scheduled for Aug. 27-30.
The Secret Service will set up, fence and tightly guard its own perimeter around the convention. It's not saying where the perimeter will be, but city officials have assumed it will encompass the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the Tampa Convention Center, Embassy Suites Hotel, Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina, some of the waterfront and maybe the Tampa Bay History Center, the report says.
The Secret Service will check credentials and use metal detectors to scan every person going inside the security perimeter. Only law enforcement officers working in their official capacity will be allowed to carry guns into the perimeter, Secret Service spokesman George Ogilvie said.
While there is a lot of joint planning between local and federal authorities, local authorities will be chiefly responsible for responding to what happens outside the Secret Service perimeter.
The zone's outline hasn't been set, but officials say it likely would be fenced and protesters would be screened to keep out certain items, including weapons, the report notes. The zone also could also have water, portable toilets and access to a stage and microphone. While protesters couldn't camp there, they could stay and demonstrate as long as they wanted. It would be open 24 hours a day.
Outside the protest area, the city is looking at creating a "Clean Zone" covering downtown, Ybor City, the Channel District, parts of some nearby neighborhoods, plus Harbour Island and Davis Islands.
In the Clean Zone, the city would allow groups of 50 or more people to march, but only on an official parade route, or to rally, but only at city parks. They would need a city permit, and no parade or rally could last longer than 60 minutes.
During the week of the convention, Tampa also would ban various items, depending on the location in Tampa, says the report:
• Citywide, there would be a ban on carrying pieces of wood, hard tubes or anything else that could be used as a club, as well as water guns, super soakers, air guns, paint ball guns, explosives, switchblades, hatchets, slingshots, brass knuckles, Mace, chains, crowbars, hammers, shovels, or any container containing urine, fecal matter or other bodily fluid.
• In the Clean Zone, the ban would be expanded to prohibit ropes, straps, tape or string longer than 6 inches, glass containers, ceramic vessels, light bulbs, padlocks and bicycle locks, things that could be used as portable shields and gas masks.
• Inside the protest area, the ban would be expanded still further to prohibit aerosol cans, camping gear, coolers and ice chests, fireworks, lasers, bottles, cans, thermoses, sticks, poles, ladders and umbrellas with metal tips.