TAMPA, Fla. -- The many thousands of demonstrators expected at the Democratic and Republican state conventions can come armed with a lot more than signs and slogans : State law in Florida and North Carolina permits hidden firearms, including guns.
In Tampa, where the RNC will hold its revelry this fall, officials are starting to worry about folks toting guns in such a politically-charged environment. The Town Council voted Thursday to ask Republican Gov. Rick Scott to help them temporarily ban hidden firearms. Charlotte officials have yet to publically raise concerns, but with both cities trying to balance public safety with First and Second Modification rights, it's likely the host town for the Democratic convention will additionally have to address the issue.
The Tampa City Council wants Scott to issue an executive order, stopping folks with hidden weapons authorizes from carrying guns.
"We believe it's necessary and prudent to take this reasonable step to prevent a potential tragedy," council member Lisa Montelione asserted in a draft letter to Scott.
Tampa city leaders have already suggested a number of banned items ( lumber, hatchets, gas masks, chains and "super soaker" water cannons ) - but they're forestalled from outlawing concealed guns. Florida and North Carolina have laws prohibiting local officers from pre-empting state gun statutes.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn declared the state law has made the city "look silly," especially because officers can ban water guns although not real ones.
"We're kind of constrained by the state law," he announced.
Charlotte officers also believe they are hamstrung.
"We can't change what the state legislative council has in place," said Mark Newbold, an attorney with the police office.
Many thousands of delegates, writers and political junkies will stream into the mid-sized towns for the multi-day conventions. Republicans hold their event at the Tampa Bay Times Arena during Aug. 27-30. The Democrats ' party is 7 days later at the time Warner Cable Arena. Inside the arenas, the Secret Service has banned non combatants from carrying guns.
Both cities have hosted large gatherings before - Tampa has held four Super Bowls and Charlotte has entertained the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball competition and the National Rifle Organisation convention - but neither has really experienced an event like this.
In the last 50 years, political conventions have now become a magnet for demonstrators, and they have sometimes turned repulsive.
In 1968, demonstrators tried to interrupt the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Scenes of police clashing with protesters on the streets played on telly screens in living rooms across America. 4 years on, anti-war demonstrators disrupted the Republican State Convention in Miami Beach.
More recently, thousands of objectors descended on St. Paul, Minn, in 2008, when the town hosted the Republican National Convention. Some demonstrators smashed cars, punctured tires and threw bottles in a confrontation with pepper-spray wielding police. Masses of folks were held over a couple of days.
"Everything we are doing relies on something that happened at another convention or another national security event," Tampa City Attorney Jim Shimberg expounded.
The central government has given $50 million each to Charlotte and Tampa to help them pay for new security-related apparatus, training and officer wages.
Tampa is proposing a "Clean Section" protest area with compact toilets, water, a stage and a mike for objectors. Outside that area, folks will be permitted to march down an official parade route so long as they've a permit.
The precise location of the protest sectors and security perimeter will be decided by the city commission in the approaching weeks.
Joyce Hamilton Henry, the director of the mid-Florida office of the American Civil Liberties Union, expounded her organisation is worried about protests that'll be limited to one hour, and a ban on masks.
"We feel it's totally impractical, particularly if groups are coming in with large numbers," Hamilton Henry declared.
The Tampa Police Office is anticipated to rotate most of its 1,000-officer force into convention security in the event, which could draw up to 45,000 folks. An additional 3,000 officials from other agencies round the state will help.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department plans to add 2,400 to 3,400 officials from outside departments to its force of more than 1,750.
For the convention there, a coalition of groups has formed because they announced they are indignant the city has declined to share information about where they can gather.
The Coalition to Protest at the DNC has promised to gather without authorizes, and promised a massive demonstration Sept. 2 in what they call the Wall Street of the South.
Charlotte, a town of 760,000 folk, is home to BOA Company, one of the country's biggest banks.
"This is a thing we have to do. They can not stop our right to protest," declared Ben Carroll, a coalition speaker.
Members of the coalition related they're still irritated about how police in February disbanded an Occupy Charlotte tent town on the turf outside the old City Hall. Protesters had been camped there since October.
The move came one week after Charlotte adopted an extraordinary event ordinance limiting political demonstrations before this year's convention. The new rules give police more power to stop and search folk when the convention comes to the town. And folks will not be permitted to carry back-packs and other items in chosen areas.
Tags: Second Amendment, 2nd Amendment, Florida Second Amendment