When Are Light Bulbs More Dangerous Than Guns?

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By Francis Wilkinson

Gunwise, the Republican National Convention in Tampa presents the party with some knotty issues. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has designated the August convention a "National Special Security Event." Guns will be prohibited inside the convention hall and in a safety perimeter around it.

So the Republicans' own convention will not be able to showcase one of their favorite principles: that the presence of concealed guns "enhances public safety," as Representative Lamar Smith of Texas said recently. Many Republicans in Congress, like many of their colleagues in state legislatures, support legislation that would effectively legalize the carrying of concealed firearms in all 50 states.

If the party's gun logic will be subverted in the convention hall, at least it will reign supreme in the rest of Tampa, where a temporary ordinance will be in effect. Concerned about a "potentially contentious environment" in the city, Mayor Bob Buckhorn has banned a number of  items during convention week. They include: metal knuckles, mace, paintball rifles, hard plastic that is more than ¾ inch thick, wood that is more than ¼ inch thick and aerosol cans. In the area around the convention defined as the "event zone," glass bottles, light bulbs and locks that are not attached to a bicycle will be forbidden. As will pieces of rope more than 6 inches long as well as sticks, poles or water guns.

All of these items are banned on the presumption that they might cause harm. Guns don't make the list.

Buckhorn asked Republican Governor Rick Scott to issue an executive order restricting the transportation of guns in Tampa during the convention. Scott refused. As Scott pointed out in his reply, sticks, poles and water guns are not protected by the Second Amendment. Guns are. You can't argue with his logic.

(Francis Wilkinson is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board. Follow him on Twitter.)


-0- May/08/2012 16:08 GMT