Should States Suspend Concealed Carry Laws for Political Conventions?

When Republicans gather to formally nominate Mitch Romney as the GOP Presidential candidate in Tampa, Aug. 27-30, the streets around the city's downtown convention center are sure to be a sea of stewing political angst and protest.

Would it be wise to prohibit anyone -- even those with permits to carry -- from carrying firearms in the so-called "event zone?"

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn thinks so. He wants all firearms banned from the streets around the center during the convention. However, he can't impose that restriction on those with concealed carry permits because a 2011 Florida state law prohibits cities from passing any local laws pertaining to firearms. And state law states citizens with concealed carry permits can walk the streets of Tampa legally armed.

Therefore, on May 1, Buckhorn asked Florida Gov. Rick Scott to temporarily suspend that law during the convention.

"Normally, licensed firearms carried in accordance with the Florida statute requirements do not pose a significant threat to the public," Buckhorn said in a two-page letter to Scott. "However, in the potentially contentious environment surrounding the RNC, a firearm unnecessarily increases the threat of imminent harm and injury to the residents and visitors of the city."

City officials in Charlotte, N.C., which will host the Democratic National Convention, Sept. 3-6, may impose similar restrictions on firearms, but won't have to appeal to the Governor to do so.

The much-ridiculed irony in Tampa is Florida law does allow the city to prohibit clubs, slingshots, brass knuckles, crowbars, glass bottles, and water pistols in the streets outside the convention center, just not firearms carried with a state concealed weapons permit.

As far as which jurisdictions' laws apply inside the center during the RNC, there's little debate: The Secret Service has banned civilians from carrying guns during the convention.