On the very same day that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn sent a request to Gov. Rick Scott to restrict carrying firearms during the Republican Convention this summer, the governor responded:
Not exactly a shocking response from the gun owner, NRA member, and the man who stacked the new Stand Your Ground Task Force with gun friendly lawmakers, some who actually wrote the law and have already defended it as it pertains to Trayvon Martin case in op-eds before they were appointed.
From The Tampa Tribune:
"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."
(In his letter, Scott adds this: "Firearms are noticeably included, however, in the 2nd Amendment. The choice to allow the government to ban sticks and poles, but not firearms, is one that the People made in enacting their state and federal constitutions.)
"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 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."
Yes, even the most ardent 2nd Amendment supporters would understand Buckhorn's point, (not to mention law-enforcement officers) but this is Rick Scott we're talking about, and we can add this to the very long list of things that he fails to understand about governing.
Also not shocking is the hypocrisy employed in Scott's decision.
It seems Gov. Scott would prefer risking a "shootout at the O.K. Corral" situation rather than diss the NRA trample on one's constitutional rights. After all, Scott is a well known defender of constitutional rights!
Except when he isn't.
“We have had political conventions in this country since the dawn of the Republic. They are an essential means of furthering our constitutional rights to free speech and to vote. “Our fundamental right to keep and bear arms has coexisted with those freedoms for just as long, and I see no reason to depart from that tradition this year.”
Surely you jest, Gov. Overreach? Our constitutional rights to free speech and to vote? In Rick Scott's Florida, constitutional rights are selective.
For example, some would say that the concept of free speech ceased to exist once Scott bought his way into Tallahassee and declared Florida "Open For Business." Scott's alliance with "big business" has been beneficial to both, and he seems to be a firm believer in the Mitt Romney school of thought:
"Corporations are people, my friends!"
That's not the only similarity between the two. In fact, anyone thinking of voting for Romney might want to pay a visit to Florida or talk to a resident first. Florida under Scott's slash and burn policies can provide an ugly preview of the potential disaster in the wake of a President Romney. The lower your income, if you have one, the less rights you have. Just ask a Florida welfare recipient.
Voting rights were one of the first things to come under assault in Florida after Scott arrived. Sure, we still have the "right" to vote, but thanks to Scott and the conservative majority in the legislature, it's much harder to exercise that right. Where was Scott's love of the Constitution when the chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on civil rights and the Constitution was holding hearings on those voting restrictions? As you'll recall, when asked what steps Scott’s administration planned to take to ensure Florida’s new laws didn’t disenfranchise Florida voters, he didn't bother to respond. He never showed up for the hearings either.
In fact, Rick Scott spends a great deal of time AND money on issues dealing with the rights of Floridians. Unfortunately it's taxpayer money, and it's due to Scott restricting those rights rather than defending them, and we all pay dearly on both counts. Never mind that the courts have often ruled in our favor. Scott, or the "Supreme Executive" as he refers to himself, just declares those courts "wrong" and we're forced to spend more on seemingly endless appeals. So many, in fact, when Scott "disagreed" with a judge recently who found an unconstitutional breach of contract where Scott cut state salaries to offset pensions, the governor's press release began with: "As you would expect, I believe this decision is simply wrong."
"As you would expect" will no doubt become boilerplate for many a future press release from the governor's office, as the potential for appeal list is long. From drug testing welfare recipients and state employees, to privatizing prisons and education from elementary schools to colleges and universities, and on and on.
With so many challenges at such high costs, Scott's method of governing seems to fly in the face of his philosophy as a fiscally conservative, "small government candidate," but no matter. While Rick Scott disagrees with so many in the judicial branch, he's come up with a "simple" solution for that too. Simply convince the legislature to give you the power to hand pick the judges yourself, pretend that your constituents would like nothing more than allowing their governor unchecked power, then give this response publicly to the media: "When you're elected governor, people expect you to not have a limit on who you can appoint."
In Florida right now, Constitutional rights are fragile things and they need to be protected. Do you trust this man with yours?
(Photo: M. Jackovics)