Ahhh, only in America. News outlets in the US are reporting that during the Republican National Convention in August, it will be strictly prohibited to carry water guns on the streets of Tampa, Florida. Concealed handguns, on the other hand, will be perfectly legal.
Florida Governor Rock Scott has reportedly refused Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s request to ban handguns from downtown Tampa during the convention as it "would surely violate the Second Amendment”. "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."
Good grief. Americans have rather mixed interpretations on ‘self defence’ at the best of times (see Trayvon Martin) – and there is a precedent of gun-related ‘protest’ over differing political inclinations (US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona being the most recent example).
Thousands of protesters are expected to descend on the Florida metropolis for the GOP convention. This decision means ‘concealed carry’ licence-holders will be able to carry their weapons in the streets surrounding the convention. State law, however, will prevent anyone from toting ‘super soaker’ water guns, sticks, poles, portable shields or glass bottles. Meaning any hot-heads (while it tends to be the wettest month, average temperatures are still a heady 90 degrees or 32 degrees Celsius in Tampa in August) won’t be able to sip from a glass bottle or splash around with a water pistol to cool down. Pistol-packing, however, will be totally fine.
Of course, no handguns will be allowed inside the convention at the Tampa Bay Times Arena, August 27-30, which is being protected by the Secret Service (you assume they’ll probably be armed, however). Indeed, the city plans to have 4,000 law enforcement personnel in the downtown area during the party convention.
A spokesman for the Republican National Convention said party officials are not worried that concealed handguns will create security problems. "We think we are going to have a safe and successful convention. The local police and Secret Service will make sure of that."
Mayor Scott may have made the visiting Republicans (of course, he is one) happy with his NRA-friendly decision. But pity the poor event organisers. Who would want to be doing the Risk Assessment on that event? Forget the health and safety declarations for the delegates involved; what about the residents in the local neighbourhood? And who would want to say anything inflammatory at the podium with a bunch of potential hot-heads packing heat outside? Let's hope any after-hours debate doesn't deteriorate into a 'shoot first, ask questions later' scenario.