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Politics

Tampa Mayor: Open Carry Dangerous for Florida Citizens, Economy

January 25, 2016 - 1:45pm
Bob Buckhorn
Bob Buckhorn

Legislation to legalize open carry in Florida may be steadily making its way through the Florida Legislature, but some of the mayors of the state’s largest cities are speaking out against the proposal, saying it would create a dangerous environment for area residents.

Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat who has served as the mayor of the state’s third largest city since 2011, penned an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times Friday, saying the bill would “threaten public safety” and the economic development of the Tampa Bay area. 

“I'm certain that this legislation will undermine the tremendous progress Tampa has made on so many fronts,” Buckhorn wrote. “It threatens public safety, tourism, economic development job creation and our quality of life. 

The bill, HB 163, is a father-son effort from Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville. If the bill becomes law, Floridians with concealed weapons permits would be allowed to "openly carry" their firearms in the Sunshine State. Anyone who willfully infringed on concealed weapons permit holders’ right to openly carry (like law enforcement officers) would face a $5,000 fine. Government entities who try to infringe upon the open carry rule could face an even higher penalty, $100,000.

Buckhorn said the legislation was worrying because it would complicate law enforcement officers’ jobs, making it difficult for them to distinguish between “good guys” and “bad guys” at the scene of a crime.

“Our police officers need to make split-second decisions in these kinds of scenarios — they do not have the luxury of time to decipher a good Samaritan from a criminal,” Buckhorn wrote. “Adding open carry to the mix is going to make their job even tougher and potentially add to the number of victims in already tragic and life-threatening situations.”

In 2015, violent crime in the Tampa Bay Area was at its lowest level since 1985.

Some law enforcement officers across Florida have said they’d support some version of the legislation, with the Florida Sheriffs Association proposing an alternative bill which would require that people intentionally and deliberately violate the law before they could be arrested for displaying their firearm. 

Prior to their proposed alternative, the FSA was vehemently against open carry, saying the bill would make law enforcement officers' jobs more complicated.

Despite the FSA’s general opposition to the current bill, another group representing law enforcement officers, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, hopped onboard with the legislation. 

"The police chiefs understand that momentum is building," association spokeswoman Sandi Poreda said, explaining the association would support the legislation with amendments. "And because of their concerns for police officers' safety, they wanted to go ahead and reach out to the bill sponsors and work on these amendments, which they believe will better protect officers."

But for politicians like Buckhorn, open carry just isn’t a good idea and could have far-reaching repercussions for one of the state’s most thriving economic regions. Buckhorn expressed concerns it would be difficult to attract tourists and big economic booster like the Super Bowl (which has twice been held in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium) to the area.

Beyond the economic impact, Buckhorn said it just wasn’t the right solution for what he sees is an overwhelming problem of gun violence nationwide.

“I believe it is a foolish and ineffective solution to the gun violence epidemic sweeping our nation,” he wrote. “More guns do not equate to safer streets.”

There are currently around 1.45 million people with concealed weapons permits statewide. Florida would join the 45 other states allowing the practice if the bill passes through the legislature this year. 

Comments

I live in a state with legal open carry. No one actually does it. The only open carry guns I ever see are police officers and the guy behind the counter at the gun range. All you folks concerned about Florida turning into the WIld West are either worried for no reason or pushing an agenda of fear.

Who is going to open carry in downtown Tampa?It's people mostly in the country that'll be open carrying,especially rifles to deal with dangerous animals.I heard Buckhorn on the radio this morning claiming to be pro 2nd Amendment,we all know that isn't true.

The reason they are trying to pass the law is because if you have a "Concealed Weapon or Firearm License" and someone notices the gun being briefly exposed accidentally to the public and that someone calls the police, you can get in trouble and lose your legal right to continue carrying because it becomes a felony and many people have been prosecuted for that which is ridiculous so it does have to do with the second amendment. If you are legally licensed why do you have to go through all that trouble including legal expenses? With open carry then a person with a legal right to carry does not have to worry if the firearm becomes exposed accidentally.

Open Carry could help law enforcement because if a someone is trying to commit a crime an sees someone with a weapon they will think twice before they try to commit that crime. Where people are allowed to have guns crime is down, take Chicago no guns more crime. More murders in Chicago because of no ability to have a gun.

Legislation regarding the use of guns in the workplace should restrict the US State Department from using gunmen in the hallways at the State Department to force out government workers who disagree with the Administration. No one in the State Department is armed, except for the gunmen. In April 1995 I came to work as usual to the Office of International Financial Services in the US State Department. Entering my office via a backdoor entrance, I noticed a number of gunmen from the so-callled "Office of Diplomatic Security Services" by passing the gunmen's attempts to block the front entryway. After several abut a half hour went by my supervisor came to my desk in a panic...he said that the 5 or 6 gunmen had acosta him and ordered him to fire me! I asked if any paperwork was presented to justify this action. I told my supervisor I wanted to call in an attorney I knew to demand that the gunmen provide their legal authority. My supervisor, however, was terrified and begged me to leave. Which I did, immediately. Several weeks went by and my attorney friend repeatedly tried to have the State Department provide a written authority for the incredible violations of human rights. A piece of paper appeared in his FAX machine from the State Department "terminating" me...the document contained numerous errors suggesting a non-expert had filled it out...there was no signature attached, though the name of a Clinton Adinistration appointee was printed on it. activyt of its personnel.

This will be devastating to the state, the police and tourism! I will surely move out of this state at retirement, if this turns into the disaster I am sure it will be. I can just see the yahoos jumping into all kinds of situations making them ten times more dangerous. Domestic disputes? Road rage? A real shooter situation? Plain clothes policemen responding to a disturbance? Well, it's one way to get the population down. Citizens deciding an already violent state will only get more violent and moving elsewhere. Tourists avoiding the Gunshine state, corporations moving out or not moving into the Gunshine state. Double or triple the mortality rate. Good guys shooting good guys thinking they were bad guys. Police arriving and shooting good guys who already killed other good guys who killed the bad guys half hour ago. Reminds me of the five year old girl being trained by a teacher to shoot a machine gun. Didn't turn out too well. This will not turn out well, either. Almost all police groups are against this law. They are the ones who keep us safe, we owe it to them to listen. They know what they're talking about.

Brian, which of the 4 states that don't allow open carry will you move to? Look, the same scare tactics and "wild west" arguments were made when FL legalized concealed carry, and non of those fears have come true. Statistically it is more rare for a concealed carry permit holder to commit a crime than it is a law enforcement officer...licensed carry requires fingerprinting and a background check while criminals will carry anyway (and they won't carry openly). If I were a law enforcement officer in FL I would be offended that Mr Buckhorn thinks that FL's officers are less trained and less intelligent than the officers in the 45 other states that have open carry, because those officers seem to be able to refrain from killing licensed open carriers on a daily basis.

I'll still come to your state. You have awesome beaches. And good many of my relatives.

Well Mr.Buckhorn, if the Tampa area has had the lowest crime since 1985 could it be from more concealed carries being 1.45 million people armed at any given time to deter crime? Would you like to be the proud owner of the total democrat city of Baltimore, Md? I think we all know what happened there. The police can see an armed person if we had open carry, not necessarily so if the weapon is concealed, concealed carry or not. As a police officer I would rather know who has a weapon. The most gun violence happens in cities with "No gun access", such as Chicago, NYC and LA and "Gun Free zones". If you send your kids to a gun free school you are asking for trouble. If a business is a "Gun free zone" they won't get my business. .

Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville are three places you really need a gun; and a good percentage of the issued "concealed carry" permits "reside" in those three Cities... I'll wager that Tampa Mayor Buckhorn is an "enrollee" in former NYC Mayor Bloomberg's anti-gun "club". Those DEMOCRAT Mayors and city administrators are the very tyrannical reason for the 2nd Amendment's existence; DON'T believe it?...check out Detroit and the worst rundown cities in the country,..ALL functioning, and dying, under Democrat administrations !

A lot of things in this country, not just guns, are completely screwed-up ... and probably can't be fixed at this point. Besides that ... this state may be the worst-governed of all ... run entirely by a state legislature completely corrupted by a cadre of long-time special interests. If the Panhandle digs the GOP clowns running things ... then let that be ... while the rest of us south if I-4 simply secede and form the new state of South Florida. This is what happens when only 20% or less of the state are native-born ... with the rest being newbies, interlopers, and carpetbaggers.

It seems you do not know the Demographics of this state.

"There are currently around 1.45 million people with concealed weapons permits statewide. Florida would join the 45 other states allowing the practice if the bill passes through the legislature this year." 45 other states currently allow the practice, so most people visiting Florida are used to it already. It would not affect anything as it is common practice nationwide. Still, I have small concerns. Adept criminals will just open carry under the false premise they are legally allowed to do so. This would make it difficult in an emergency situation to determine who is good or bad guy. I for one am all for it. Crime will plummet, especially gun violence. Nothing deters stupidity quicker than the threat of instant retaliation.

This bill has nothing to do with either safety or 2nd amendment rights. The Gaetz'-father and son-are using the issue for purely political purposes. Baby Gaetz is running for his Daddy's soon-to-be-open Senate seat. Millionaires, both are political prostitutes who will take campaign $$ from any/all. The NRA , of course, is backing baby Gaetz- along with many special interest PACS. Matt Gaetz is pushing this simply to get the vote /support from the local constituency-most of whom are far right- wing teanuts.A cursory perusal of the State Division of Elections site reveals that while several local contributors are listed, the majority of his war chest comes from South/Central Fl. and out of state. Most of the locals in NW Fl. who support him have no idea,much less interest,in where/how /what his $$ -or his political ambitions-originate. He's aiming for Governor. Scary.

Finally, someone who knows the facts behind this ridiculous cenario. Thank you for posting, I wish it could be shared with every voter in Florida. But then, the Republicans like this kind of crap, facts don't matter to them.

"This bill has nothing to do with either safety or 2nd amendment rights."..... It has everything to do with Safety and the 2nd. Amendment. ... It has Nothing to do with your rabid anti-Gaetz rantings....

I believe that open carry should be limited to hand guns, people that have pasted extensive background checks and have participated in rigorous training. I have no doubt that "in the right hands" more guns on the street can reduce crime and carnage. EJ Abraham

And the citizens aren't allowed to use Marijuana either says the chosen few!

This has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment and everything to do with stupidity.

The reason they are trying to pass the law is because if you have a "Concealed Weapon or Firearm License" and someone notices the gun being briefly exposed accidentally to the public and that someone calls the police, you can get in trouble and lose your legal right to continue carrying because it becomes a felony and many people have been prosecuted for that which is ridiculous so it does have to do with the second amendment. If you are legally licensed why do you have to go through all that trouble including legal expenses? With open carry then a person with a legal right to carry does not have to worry if the firearm becomes exposed accidentally.

Common sense. Just who are those that want guns - or the intimidating threat of gun play - Mexico has had enough of it - and so have I.

If you've had enough of it, move. You can move to one of the five states that currently do not allow open carry. Yes, 45 states permit open carry very few people actually open carry but it's nice to know that my rights are protected

What are those five states?

California,DC,Illinois,New York,S Carolina,& Florida.Open carry has always been legal in my home State of Maine & we've always had one of the lowest crime rates in the country.

kennebecsmitty, Are you sure Maine isn't insane crazy with all those people running around with guns on their hips? People being shot accidentally in road rage and domestic disputes, good guys shooting good guys in the street? It's probably enough to make you want to leave your beautiful state. No? Hmmm, it's almost as if legal gun owners are decent, law abiding, sensible people. Or something.

"What a Maroon"-- Bugs Bunny The only people that have guns in Mexico are criminals... There is a total ban on Mexican Citizen gun ownership... Half the mexican police are on the Narco-terrorist payroll too.... And they have lots of guns... Still 1,000 Fast & Furious guns missing in Mexico...

Comments are now closed.

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