Florida, standing its ground, will allow guns at the Republican convention

By Bernd Debusmann
May 7, 2012

File this under the rubric Only in America – sticks, poles and water guns will be banned from the centre of Tampa at the Republican Party’s national convention next August. Guns, however, will be allowed. The logic behind that is drawn from the U.S. constitution. How so?

The constitution’s second amendment protects the right of citizens to “keep and bear arms”  and that is taken to mean firearms. Sticks, poles and water guns do not enjoy constitutional protection. That, in a nutshell, is the argument the governor of Florida, Rick Scott, used to turn down a request by the mayor of Tampa for guns to be kept away, just for four days, from an event forecast by the organizers to draw at least 50,000 people to the city.

They will include thousands bent on demonstrating against the policies of Mitt Romney, who will be formally nominated as the Republican Party’s candidate for the presidential elections in November. Political conventions and protests make for a volatile mix, which is why Mayor Bob Buckhorn thought the downtown area near the convention center should be a gun-free zone.

That may strike a good many people as plain common sense but Scott is not one of them. The exchange of letters between him and Buckhorn speaks volumes about American attitudes towards guns  much of the rest of the world finds baffling and many Americans consider absurd. Said the New York Times in an editorial: “If this situation weren’t so shameful, and so dangerous, it would be absurd.”

To place the matter into context: the mayor, a Democrat, is no anti-gun crusader. He owns one himself and numbers among the estimated 900,000 Florida residents (out of a population of 19 million) who have a state license allowing them to carry a concealed weapon. The governor, a Republican, was elected in 2010 with the support of the Tea Party movement and the endorsement of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Buckhorn to Scott:

In anticipation of the many thousands of Florida residents and visitors to the State that will attend the Republican National Convention and its related events, the Department of Homeland Security has already designated the RNC as a National Special Security Event (NSSE). This designation is reserved for nationally significant events   involving the potential for major disruptions…including possibly violent ant-government protests and other civil unrest.

Part of the City’s preparations to respond to threats includes the passage of a temporary ordinance for the downtown area. The temporary ordinance regulates certain items that are usually benign in nature, but have been historically used as dangerous weapons during a NSSE. Some of the benign items that have been used as dangerous weapons include sticks, poles and water guns.


“One noticeable item missing from the City’s temporary ordinance is firearms,” the letter continues. “Normally, licensed firearms…do not pose a significant threat to the public; 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.”

Florida state law bars municipalities from passing their own gun regulations but the governor has the power to override restrictions with an executive order. That is what Buckhorn asked Scott to do. His reply:

The short answer to your request is found in the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution…You note that the City’s temporary ordinance regulates ‘sticks, poles and water guns’ but that firearms are a ‘noticeable item missing’…Firearms are noticeably included, however, in the 2nd Amendment.

While he shared concern that there might be violent anti-government protests, Scott said, “it is just at such times that the constitutional right to self-defense is most precious and must be protected from government overreach.”

That reflects the philosophy of the NRA, the powerful lobby which helped draft Florida’s 2005 Stand Your Ground law. It allows citizens to use deadly force if they “reasonably believe” that their life and safety is in danger. The law is at the heart of a case that made international headlines in February – the  killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old student. The man who shot him, George Zimmerman, said he had acted in self-defense. Initially, he was not arrested.

Protest demonstrations by tens of thousands eventually prompted his arrest and a review of the case. He is now charged with second-degree murder, free on bail and awaiting trial. Meanwhile,  a public safety task force on May 1 began a review of the Stand Your Ground law. Twenty-three states have adopted similar laws and in several, Democratic lawmakers are now trying to roll back the legislation.

Among their arguments:  the number of “justifiable homicides” has risen sharply in the states that adopted such laws. Will that impress those who view the 2nd Amendment as “a sacred constitutional tradition,” as Governor Scott put it in his letter to the Tampa mayor?  Don’t bet on it.


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well bernd,it is in our nation`s constitution as well as the state`s!as for the governor having the power to override restrictions with an executive order;he does not!he himself could be taken out of office and fined personally for doing so!what many Americans consider absurd is,people like you and mayor buckhorn trying to break the law and trample on everyone`s right`s!look what happened with the” patriot act”.not one patriot voted on it and it has taken temporary restrictions and made them permanent! remember what our forefather`s said”They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”;or is something your willing to deny?so this i say to all the bernd`s out there” At present I shall only give you my Opinion that tho’ your Reasonings are subtle, and may prevail with some Readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general Sentiments of Mankind on that Subject, and the Consequence of printing this Piece will be a great deal of Odium drawn upon your self, Mischief to you and no Benefit to others. He that spits against the Wind, spits in his own Face”.

Posted by bobthegunnner | Report as abusive

What sane civil society on the planet allows guns at its election convention? An insane party – that is the GOP – absolutely gone insane and into evil up to their eyeballs. They are the apostacy!!

Posted by JLWR | Report as abusive

Good. Maybe they’ll shoot one another, and prove once and for all just how insane they’ve become.

Posted by krimsonpage | Report as abusive

For the life of me I can not understand the Florida Governor’s stance. I hope nothing happens, but emotional tensions can run high at party conventions. A request for a temporary exemption is not unreasonable. We’ll see what Gov. Scott’s stance is when Homeland Security and the Secret Service wade into the conversation about security. I’m certain they will have a different point of view.

Posted by MJMann | Report as abusive

The now predominant Jacksonian wing of the Republican Party is just expressing its ambivalence on the ballots-versus-bullets question. Fortunately, there’s really no history of politicians being shot at in America. Ahem…

Posted by TobyONottoby | Report as abusive

This will be an interesting convention to watch from afar. I wonder what the total of “justifiable” homicides will be at the end. Has Vegas started a bet on this?

Posted by Zannie | Report as abusive

This will be an interesting convention to watch from afar. I wonder what the total of “justifiable” homicides will be at the end. Has Vegas started a bet on this?

Posted by Zannie | Report as abusive

You know, I think an excellent way to attack this problem was written in the first paragraph of this mostly treaded ground, cookie-cutter essay. People who think carrying weapons in public is ludicrous and utterly dangerous should posit that the 2nd Amendment pertains to ANY weapon, including swords, crossbows, ninja stars, numchukus, grenades, etc. Get them aaallllll wrapped with the same bow, then ask the Supreme Court if this utter insanity is permissible by law. Personally, I think carrying a sword would be awesome — a lot more sexy and fear invoking than a gun. Cowards use guns; men of action use swords!

Posted by CDN_Rebel | Report as abusive

I am so sick and tired of the rightwing lunacy that is now passing for mainstream thinking in America. Let’s be clear, it only passes as mainstream thinking on the right. That’s not to say the left doesn’t have its share of nuts. It does, but they aren’t succeeding at pushing an extremist agenda. I don’t ever recall so much confusion with the truth, so much difficulty in ascertaining what the truth is, and an unwillingness on the part of an influential many to want and seek the truth.

In recent years there have been a few “fact check” websites that have popped up. Snopes and FactCheck.org are two I’m familiar with. I often get nutty rightwing emails and occasionally when my spidey senses tingle from some of the more inflammatory emails, I look it up on one of these sites, and email back my results. More than once has this exchange proved to evoke anger from the other party. Some time ago I told myself that it wouldn’t be long before these sites were attacked by the right as having a “liberal bias”. Sure enough, that’s the word on the right now. It seems that any source of information that isn’t consistently supportive of the political right is officially labeled liberally biased and not to be trusted. Of course that leaves only sources that are biased in favor of the right as legitimately factual sources.

Just to demonstrate how dangerous this information dynamic can be, 6 months into the Iraq War there was a poll taken showing that 70% of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks. 6 months into the war. This is not small matter. A democracy can’t survive for long like this. Like a 45 year old cousin of mine said at the time, “Well, everyone knows that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11.” I knew then that I was walking into a blind alley with a nearsighted cyclops suffering from acute myopia. I just changed the subject.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive

@CDN_Rebel: You make an eminently logical point. The 2nd amendment specifioes “arms”, not firearms, and we don’t really know what they had in mind in 1791. Battle axes, crossbows etc.? The thing is, the various Supreme Court rulings on the matter all took it for granted that “arms” means firearms. As to your fine suggestion about carrying swords – three cheers for that. Thing is, the Florida debate is about concealed carry. Now tell me how that would work for a sword? Stuck down your trouser leg?

Posted by Komment | Report as abusive

Maybe they’ll drink the kool-aid while they’re there. We wouldn’t want the guns to give anyone a false sense of security.

Posted by schmetterling | Report as abusive

Summary: The Federal Second Amendment reaffirms the right of the States to maintain well-armed militias for security of a free State for which is the purpose of the right of the people to keep and bear arms with the goal of rendering standing armies unnecessary.

http://www.federalistblog.us/2010/09/sec ond_amendment_fallacies/

Posted by Mannix | Report as abusive

Ever since guns have been allowed in our national parks, I have rather given up on trying to share my opinion that in most cases guns are trouble. But now I see that my Governor is allowing such an insane act to take place.. Well here I am again. Guns and politics don’t mix.

Posted by sunvisor57 | Report as abusive

Waaaaahhhhh, Waaaaaaaahhhhhh, Waaaaaahhhhhhhh, the sky is falling, the sky is falling, Waaaahhh, blubber, blubber, Waaaaahhhhh, blubber, blubber!

That all you anti freedom closet Nazis can do is whine and cry about people exercising their rights?

You afraid of the boogeyman pathetic children have almost 3 decades of data from states with concealed carry and you cant show blood runneth in the streets by the law abiding exercise of a right.

You people are pathetic.

Posted by Jarhead1982 | Report as abusive

The “PEOPLE” has multiple times been ruled upon by the US Supreme court to mean individuals.

Any other presumption means you must have a US Supreme court ruling that clearly identifies ANY right affirmed in the BOR to be a collective right.

But wait, oh my, that has not, nor ever will occur.

The second amendment as RATIFIED by the state’s.

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Maybe you can explain how for the entire history of English language, that the independent clause, a complete sentence capable of conveying a clear meaning, and must first exist for a dependent clause to have meaning, has always set the meaning of the complex sentence. (“the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”)

Yet some now infer the dependent clause, an incomplete sentence, incapable of conveying a clear meaning (A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State) is now the determinator of the complex sentence meaning and history and English scholars have all been wrong throughout the history of written English. Have at it, but warn us when Hades will be freezing over for you actually having data to support your claim.

Lets see, have you removed the 30 plus references from the congressional writings 1774-1789 & the federalist papers showing well regulated as to meaning well trained in the arts of war? Much less all those dictionaries that say the same thing? No, you haven’t. Reference Karpeles Museum, CA.


Maybe you removed that original draft of what became the second amendment. You know, the one that was clearly written as a collective right, but then was changed to what exists today. Why did our founding fathers change the amendment draft if it was what they wanted? Oh that’s right, actions do speak louder than words. Ref Karpeles Museum, CA again.

original proposed draft 
the right to keep and bear arms 
of the 
(17 TH of 20 amendments)
on display at the Karpeles Manuscript Library 
Santa Ana, California

“That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free State. That standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.”

http://www.wemett.net/2nd_amendment_(ori ginal_draft).html

Then of course, here is the logic failure the anti’s always have. They always fail to prove, that the miltia existed before the armed individual.

Funny how all that was before the 2008 rulings eh?

Funny how in the 2008 Heller ruling all 9 justices agreed that bearing arms was an individual right. That 5-4 vote was on the constitutionality of the Washington D.C. gun ban, read it, you will see!

http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/07 -290.ZO.html
http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09p df/08-1521.pdf

Posted by Jarhead1982 | Report as abusive

I have a fundamental right to life. That right is not dependent upon public sentiment or my location on a map. Violent crimes are a fact of life in the U.S. They happen anywhere and everywhere to anyone and everyone. And when they happen to me, they threaten my life. If I cannot defend my life, then I really don’t have a right to life.

When someone invents a star trek stun gun that is just as effective as a handgun — able to stop attackers at a distance and able to stop multiple attackers — I’ll be the first one to purchase it and carry it. Until then, a handgun is the next best thing and that is what I will carry to defend my life.

Unless you are a criminal attacking me, my handgun stays in its holster and is not a danger to anyone. How is this a problem for fellow citizens?

Posted by JohnBGood | Report as abusive

@bobthegunnner How many beers and valliums did you pop before typing that tripe? Are you threatening the author, tough guy?

Posted by krimsonpage | Report as abusive

If a person is intent on causing harm to another person, do you REALLY think an invisible line on the ground will cause him to turn around, go back to his car, put his guns up, and then go continue to cause harm to another person? If a person is intent on causing harm to another person, do you REALLY think they will care about the punishments for stepping over that arbitrary line with their firearm/weapon? If a person is intent on causing harm to another person, do you REALLY think disarming those intended victims is the best way to go about seeing to their safety? Laws which make certain places illegal to carry a firearm don’t mean spit to the criminal and put the Citizen in peril. Criminals respect guns, not laws. Forcible disarmament of a given population is no guarantee that someone who doesn’t adhere to the law/security procedures won’t slip through the net. But it IS a guarantee that those who abide by the law/security procedures will be unarmed in the face of a deadly assault.

Those who have no regard for human life also have no regard for any rules you place in front of them. Those who do concern themselves with being good people and following rules are the only ones that laws disarm, and those are the very people who could stop these kinds of happenings.

The anti-liberty argument boils down to the premise, that if peaceable armed citizens cross certain property lines, their behavior drastically changes. They degenerate into hot-tempered, remorseless, out-of-control, binge-drinking frat boys, drunken cowboys, and avenging vigilantes ready to blast anything for any reason–or for no reason at all. Anti-liberty proponents believe that I, and gun owners like me, are sociopaths. They seems to think that I am a seething cauldron of homicidal rage and hate, so morally bankrupt that my burning desire to ‘slap leather’ and gun someone down is only held in check by possible legal consequences. That if I had my way I would joyfully murder people left and right. Or bump into me at the mall? BLAM! You’re toast. Or walk on my lawn and I’ll fertilize it with your blood. Or throw a plate of spaghetti at me and I’ll blow you away.

That’s mentally pathetic and maliciously dishonest.

Posted by DeadC | Report as abusive

Guns and politics mixed without incident for many election cycles, including the one which nominated Andrew Jackson. However, a party as extremist as the GOP has become, and one divided, is a volatile mix. Add to that the likelihood of protests from the street and one wonders about this governor aloud, knowing he will be at the center.

Posted by Sarasota | Report as abusive

Mr. DeBusmann – The governor (and the mayor, and everyone else) must follow the law. Florida law not only does not authorize any power to set aside, temporarily or otherwise, the laws governing firearms in the state. As a matter of fact, the state and its subdivisions are specifically prohibited by law to suspend the lawful carrying of arms even in a declared emergency.

You fools criticize the governor (and the state by extension) for not indulging Mayor Buckhorn’s illegal request, smug in your total ignorance of these facts.

It would behoove you to know what you’re talking about before opening your big mouth.

Posted by TEEBONE | Report as abusive

Every person has a right to life. And that right is meaningless if a person cannot effectively defend themselves from a criminal attack. Sadly criminal attacks happen anywhere and everywhere to anyone and everyone.

A handgun in my holster poses no danger to fellow citizens. It just as impossible for my handgun to discharge itself in my holster as it is for a car to start itself and drive away. And that handgun in my holster will only come out if a criminal threatens me or my family with great bodily harm or death.

How do other citizens find fault with this?

Posted by JohnBGood | Report as abusive

“Political conventions and protests make for a volatile mix”

Let’s review this statement. Who is going to protest the GOP convention? I doubt that even the fiercest Ron Paul follower is going to grab a pipe and start busting windows, setting stores on fire or defecating on police vehicles. However we can expect members from the Left and the Anarchist to show up and exercise their sick version of the First Amendment (It says “the right of the people peaceably to assemble” not violently assemble)

A couple of months ago, 73 thousand NRA members descended in St. Louis for the Annual Meeting. There were no shootings, no arrests and even probably the crime rate dropped for that weekend. Every weekend, tens of thousands (probably hundred of thousands) of shooters congregate at gun ranges to practice, compete and talk politics yet you do not hear of arguments ending in mass shootings.

Who are the real violent ones? You may want to rethink your preconceptions.

Yet the narrative of us being the violent ones continue to be repeated?

Posted by MiguelGonzalez | Report as abusive

Mr. DeBusmann – The governor (and the mayor, and everyone else) must follow the law. Florida law not only does not authorize any power to set aside, temporarily or otherwise, the laws governing firearms in the state. As a matter of fact, the state and its subdivisions are specifically prohibited by law to suspend the lawful carrying of arms even in a declared emergency.

You fools criticize the governor (and the state by extension) for not indulging Mayor Buckhorn’s illegal request, smug in your total ignorance of these facts.

It would behoove you to know what you’re talking about before opening your mouth.

Posted by TEEBONE | Report as abusive

The gun lobby suffers from the fallacy of ‘belief’. They believe that anything in the Constitution is sacred, despite the fact it has been amended many times. They believe that licensed gun-carriers will always shoot the right person. And they believe that no matter what happens (i.e. who shoots whom under whatever circumstances), they cannot be wrong.

Posted by steve778936 | Report as abusive

“justifiable homicide” That means justifiable self-defense against a life threatening criminal assault…

Posted by StogieC | Report as abusive

I do not think many of you realize, that guns are not being allowed in the convention, the Secret Service controls all aspects of the security for the convention and will be banning all weapons in and for a ways around the building.

The mayor in Tampa wanted to ban guns in the city of Tampa, not just the convention site during the convention. This is why the Governor said no.

Posted by 02psd4me | Report as abusive

The anti gun zealots suffer from the fallacy of all the lies the gun control crowd uses in support of their unsubstantiated fears of the law abiding.

They demand everyone else be perfect, but not them.

Based on their beliefs, all priests should be jailed as one priest committed pedophilia, all are pedophiles.

Based on their beliefs, since one police officer (well actually many) committed murder, rape, aasault, drug dealing etc, etc all police should be banned from having a firearm.

The 800k police are 11 times more likely to shoot the wrong person than the 80 mil law abiding gun owners or the 8 mil cpl licensee’s from that group.

Otherwise these fear mongering antis would be able to present more collateral shootings than there are documented successful and justifiable self defense incidents.

Posted by Jarhead1982 | Report as abusive

Failure to post any of the responses to the anti gun zealots just reafirms your censorship of free speach and refusal to acknowledge facts these anti gun extremists cant refute.

Posted by Jarhead1982 | Report as abusive

1. Security for the convention and its immediate surroundings will be the responsibility of the U.S. Secret Service. They will screen everyone entering to deter the illegal possession of firearms, and will be on hand as an armed presence to counter any violence. Legal concealed carry will not be permitted.
2. What Mayor Buckhorn asked was that legal concealed carry be prohibited in an area of several square MILES around the convention. Note that the mayor would have made no effort to screen people entering this zone to prevent illegal carry of firearms. Over most of the area he also makes no provision for additional patrols of armed officers to counter illegal violence. His proposal would ONLY have disarmed licensed persons who have been through background checks, and who overwhelmingly don’t cause problems.
In other words he was setting up exactly the kind of “gun-free” zone where active killers have been unhindered while committing mass murders, both in the U.S. and in Europe.
3. It will be interesting to see what happens when the mayor’s “no sticks” rule runs into someone who lives or works in the area, and who needs a cane to safely walk down the street.

Posted by LarryArnold | Report as abusive

If you can take a concealed weapon into a convention, why not into a baseball game? Why not into a concert, or for that matter, onto a plane? Gun owners have rights, don’t they. I say it’s time for the peace-loving Democrats to embrace the gun revolution. Let’s all get one and then there will be no debate. We already have the right to bear arms, now we’re heading towards the right to kill someone if we feel threatened. This is democracy at its best. Everyone wears a gun and whoever succeeds in shooting anyone who threatens them wins.

Posted by lhathaway | Report as abusive

[...] Florida, standing its ground, will allow guns at the Republican convention [...]

[...] Florida, standing its ground, will allow guns at the Republican convention [...]

[...] Florida, standing its ground, will allow guns at the Republican convention [...]

[...] Florida, standing its ground, will allow guns at the Republican convention [...]

[...] Florida, standing its ground, will allow guns at the Republican convention [...]

I guess Florida is a good place to avoid, these days…see how that plays out in tourist dollars….

Posted by GAPETERSON1958 | Report as abusive

it’s becoming a lot like Arizona or a little Mexico…

Posted by GAPETERSON1958 | Report as abusive

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