No guns at the conventions — but Smathers Beach is OK

Spring-breakers gather to greet a police horse on Smathers Beach in Key West. Photo courtesy of the Miami Herald.

Spring-breakers gather to greet a police horse on Smathers Beach in Key West. Photo courtesy of the Miami Herald.




In the spirit of “we ain’t got the good sense God gave a goose,” we’re fixing to tar-and-feather poor “Jim,” the West Coast anti-gun guy who started that petition to allow folks to carry guns inside the arena at this summer’s GOP convention in Cleveland.

By the time Jim fessed up to being the creator, more than 52,000 people had signed the online petition, which Jim (he’s not giving his last name to interviewers) says was satire. Now everyone’s mad at Jim. The gun lovers are mad because Jim was poking fun at them. The gun haters are mad because, well, because they got taken, too.

Me? I think Jim’s wicked smart. He got a ton of folks exercised — and made it abundantly clear that geese have more sense than Americans when it comes to guns. The Secret Service stepped in and did a bit of face-saving for the Republicans by saying “no guns” inside the arena in Cleveland. That way the Republican National Committee and assorted candidates — gun lovers all — didn’t have to actually tell their minions to leave the guns at home, please.

The Democrats said they’d not planned on having guns anyway, which, I suspect, is not a surprise to anyone.

Why in the world are we mad at Jim? He’s just having some fun and making a point. Ought we not, instead, be wondering why our gun carry laws make absolutely no sense? States, including Florida, are working at breakneck speed with their beloved NRA to make it perfectly permissible to casually open carry or concealed carry weapons everywhere people go.

The Florida legislature missed by a heartbeat giving the go-ahead to campus carry this last session, despite the opposition of almost three of four state residents. But, don’t try to bring your gun to a meeting with those same legislators. They frown on armed constituents.

cropped-KWWM_Letters.pngHere’s another good one from Florida. Back in 2012, when Tampa hosted the GOP national convention, the city banned masks, brass knuckles, clubs and water guns in the eight square miles around the convention center. But, as the Tampa Bay Times reported at the time, Gov. Rick Scott said “no way” when Tampa asked for a temporary gun ban in the same area. Bring your water pistol; go to jail. Tote your loaded side arm? AOK, as long as you’ve got a permit.

It gets crazier because the state and federal legislators make sure no one’s carrying guns where they happen to be, while they work their at getting guns in the hands of school teachers, on campus and in public gathering spots. You cannot bring a gun to the U.S. Congressional offices or the Florida legislative venues. Wouldn’t be safe. Bringing them to Key West’s Smathers Beach on Spring Break? Well sure. What could possibly go wrong?

Two more for instances of geese-have-more-sense:

Ohio, where the brouhaha started over the GOP convention, traditionally has allowed you to walk around with a “long” gun slung over your shoulder pretty much anywhere and anytime you want. You don’t need a permit or license. Just grab you favorite rifle or shotgun and strut your stuff. You cannot do the same with a handgun. You’ll need a concealed handgun permit to strap on that bad boy before you can mosey aroundl.

Except, of course, at the GOP convention. Apparently, you can stop in at the neighborhood coffee shop or saunter through assorted retail shopping areas, though we advise staying clear of schools, government buildings and places that sell alcohol.

In Pennsylvania, where the Democrats will do their thing in Philadelphia, as long as you have a permit to carry, you can wander the byways at will. It doesn’t matter whether you strap it across your shoulders or conceal it under your armpit. And, here’s a delightful quirk in Pennsylvania law: There’s no law specifically banning open carry of weapons. That means as long as you keep the guns where they can be seen, you don’t need a permit to carry and you’re free to wander.

Except, of course, at the Democratic convention because the Secret Service isn’t going to allow guns there, either.

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of KeyWestWatch Media, a digital media solutions company for small businesses. The last thing Key West needs is gun-toting drunks on Duval Street.



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