Tampa Can Ban Squirt Guns at GOP Convention, But Not Real Firearms


Frustrated by a Florida law that blocks all local regulation of guns, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn expects to reach out to Gov. Rick Scott for help keeping concealed firearms away from protests during the Republican National Convention there in August. The 2011 state law pre-empts the ability of cities and counties to pass any laws regulating firearms or ammunition. So while Tampa plans to ban a wide range of weapons (clubs, switchblades, Mace) and things that could be used as weapons (chains, glass bottles, water pistols) outside the convention, it cannot prohibit guns carried with a concealed weapons permit.

Buckhorn anticipates sending Scott a letter soon asking the state to explore a way to suspend the law temporarily during the Aug. 27–30 convention. He hopes that would create a way to ban concealed weapons inside the city’s proposed “Clean Zone,” which covers downtown and surrounding areas. “The absurdity of banning squirt guns but not being able to do anything about real guns is patently obvious,” Buckhorn said. “Given the nature and the potential dynamic of this event, I think it would make sense that you would not want firearms introduced into that environment by people other than law enforcement.”

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