The City of Tampa will soon be center stage when the 2012 Republican National Convention (RNC) comes to town in August. As mayor, I look forward to being the best host possible. However, my job first and foremost is to protect the people of our city and the law enforcement who serve on the front lines.
In anticipation of the thousands of visitors, the Department of Homeland Security has designated the convention as a National Special Security Event (NSSE). It is an extraordinary event. These are extenuating circumstances and should be treated as such.
To be better prepared to respond to any threats that may develop during the RNC, I asked city staff to develop a temporary ordinance for the city's downtown area to regulate certain items that are usually benign in nature, such as sticks, poles, and water guns, but have historically been used as weapons during an NSSE.
One item noticeably missing from the city's temporary ordinance is firearms. The State of Florida prohibits all local governments from passing any regulation relating to firearms. The statutes do provide exemptions for places where a firearm creates an unnecessary threat of injury and harm to innocent bystanders, such as athletic events, polling places, and meetings of the Legislature. I believe that the RNC meets the similar spirit of these exemptions.
In addition to the temporary ordinance, the city has arranged for a significant increase in security measures, which should create a safe environment in the downtown area where a firearm should not be necessary for self defense. I respectfully asked Gov. Rick Scott to issue an executive order prohibiting firearms in downtown Tampa during the RNC.
I have had a concealed weapon permit. I support the Second Amendment. However, having guns within the vicinity of the event in downtown puts us all at greater risk, particularly our law enforcement personnel.
This was a workable, temporary solution. However, Gov. Scott made his position clear. I am disappointed, but we will plan and continue to train accordingly.
Tampa will be a great host, and I will continue to work diligently to ensure that the world will see this is the only city where you want to live, work, start a business, raise a family, vacation and have any event.