Gov. Rick Scott was quick to deny Mayor Bob Buckhorn's request to bend the state's guns laws so Tampa could regulate concealed weapons downtown during the Republican National Convention.
Buckhorn conceded defeat after the rejection.
"He was pretty clear," Buckhorn said. "It doesn't appear as though there's any wiggle room there."
In a letter dated May 1 – the same day Buckhorn sent his letter to Tallahassee – Scott said he won't do what the mayor asked.
"The short answer to your request is found in the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and in Article 1, Section 8 of the Florida Constitution," Scott replied.
Both sections guarantee citizens' rights to keep and bear guns, he noted.
In his letter, Buckhorn appealed to the governor to restrict carrying firearms during the RNC in downtown Tampa under the emergency powers granted to the governor during times of emergency. Given the highly charged atmosphere surrounding the RNC, placing no limits on gun possession could increase the threat to public safety, Buckhorn's letter argued.
Scott replied that he understood Buckhorn's concern. The city already plans to ban sticks, poles, water guns and lots of other potential weapons from a downtown "event zone."
"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," Scott wrote. "It is at just such times that the constitutional right to self defense is most precious and must be protected from government overreach."
Scott said he was confident law enforcement would be able to protect Tampa's citizens and visitors without the extra step of banning guns.
Buckhorn said police will "train accordingly" to deal with the potential for gun violence during the convention Aug. 27 to 30 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Buckhorn said he wasn't concerned with people licensed to carry concealed weapons, a list that used to include him. He said he was more worried about one of those licensed weapons getting loose and landing in the wrong hands.
"Some of the people that will be here in August are not exactly model citizens," he said. "I think even the most ardent 2nd Amendment supporter would understand why I made that request."