Last month we blogged about Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s desire to ban weapons in a 4 mile radius of downtown Tampa during the Republican National Convention in August. His only hope for making this happen was in asking Governor Rick Scott to bypass state law (within his power under certain emergency circumstances). But Gov. Scott announced this week that he will not be supporting the ban.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Scott responded to Buckhorn in a letter dated the very same day as he received the request for an executive order. In his response, Scott said the request went too far. He mentioned the Secret Service will ban weapons within the convention, but that a ban throughout downtown was excessive.
“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,” his response read. “It is at just such times that the constitutional right to self-defense is most precious and must be protected from government overreach.”
Those who know the Governor’s stance on gun rights should not be surprised at all about his response to the request. Some, however, are disappointed.
City Council member Lisa Montelione says she will ask the Secret Service to expand their authority to ban weapons throughout downtown, something they could do, though it isn’t likely.
The city is largely concerned about the protestors who will descend in August; they are expecting around 15,000. Many of the protestors will be peaceful, but officials are expecting that some will be there to cause trouble.
Echoing sentiments that might make protestors nervous–as well they should make them at least cautious—Tampa Police Benevolent Association president Greg Stout said, “We pretty much look at everybody like they’re armed.”
For protestors planning on coming to the Tampa area during the RNC, caution is recommended. If the police “look at everybody like they’re armed,” you can expect to be treated as an armed individual even when a placard is the only thing you are holding.
More than likely, police will be on edge during the RNC and in days leading up to it. Arrests for things like disorderly conduct and resisting arrest are probable. And no matter how minor your disobedience is, a charge like this can change your life.
When you are arrested for doing something you feel like you have every right to be doing, it can be extremely frustrating to say the least. Having a local advocate on your side during this difficult period can be helpful.
Whether you are charged with disorderly conduct for protesting or if you are facing other similar charges, we may be able to help.