Florida Gov. Rick Scott has rejected a request from the Tampa mayor to prohibit the carrying of guns in downtown during the Republican National Convention this summer because it would infringe upon “sacred constitutional traditions,” according to a letter released Wednesday.
Concerned about the politically charged atmosphere on the streets outside the convention hall, Mayor Bob Buckhorn wrote to Scott Tuesday asking for an executive order that would temporarily override state laws allowing people with concealed weapons permits to transport firearms downtown.
The Republican governor fired off a letter to Buckhorn later Tuesday, denying the request in no uncertain terms. Scott said banning firearms in downtown Tampa would infringe on citizens’ constitutionally protected rights to legally arm themselves.
Scott wrote that while he shared Buckhorn’s concern about violent anti-government protests and other civil unrest, “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.”
“It is at just such times that the constitutional right to self-defense is most precious and must be protected from government overreach,” Scott wrote. “I am confident the many federal, state and local law enforcement agencies focused on the RNC will fully protect Floridians and visitors, without the need to resort to sweeping infringements on our most sacred constitutional traditions.”
Buckhorn, a Democrat, told reporters Wednesday he was disappointed but not surprised.
“I believe that there is no reason to have a concealed firearm in downtown Tampa that week,” Buckhorn said in a statement. “And, to be clear, I am far less concerned with those who have concealed weapons permits than the ones who may somehow acquire a weapon and use it to create mayhem … These are extenuating circumstances and should be treated as such.”