Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is seeking the assistance of Governor Rick Scott in an effort to keep firearms as far away from the Republican National Convention as possible. State law prevents the city from passing any ordinance, whether temporary or permanent, that would prohibit firearms carried with a concealed weapons permit. Buckhorn hopes Scott can use his authority to create a temporary solution.
Mayor Buckhorn has already designated what’s being referred to as a “Clean Zone,” around the downtown area, where the RNC is to be held in August. In this Clean Zone, he’s already banned the weapons he can, including knives, mace, etc. He’s even gone so far as to ban those things that could be used as weapons like glass bottles, chains, and water guns. Yes, water guns will be banned.
And it isn’t just in the immediate area of the Convention that these things will be outlawed. The “Clean Zone” is said by the Tampa Bay Times to encompass, “several square miles.”
It isn’t clear how the Clean Zone rules will be enforced. How will an officer be able to justify arresting someone walking a mile from the RNC with a glass bottle?
Regardless, the Mayor is hopeful that something can be done to include firearms in that list of banned objects. The Governor has the power to issue an executive order to “suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives and combustibles,” in times of emergency considered beyond local control.
The Secret Service will obviously handle any security within the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the RNC is being held, and will be able to stop anyone from entering who is found to have a firearm. But they aren’t likely to expand their powers throughout downtown and the large Clean Zone.
Generally, carrying a concealed weapon is considered a 1st degree misdemeanor offense carrying up to a year in jail. This law applies to all weapons capable of causing serious physical injury, including knives and the like. To carry a firearm without a permit is a felony charge.
It isn’t clear how people would be charged if they were found carrying a concealed weapon within the Clean Zone, even if they had a permit, or how they would charge someone found with a water gun or other temporarily banned object.
The criminal laws of Florida are confusing enough as it is. When you are faced with a criminal charge, it can be difficult to understand what it is that you are up against and what can be done to minimize the potential consequences.
If you are charged with a weapons offense, contact us today to discuss the details and how we might be able to help.