West Palm Mayor Jeri Muoio is still making it up as she goes along. She’s been frustrated by the failure of her first two efforts to thumb her nose at Forida’s new enhanced state law that prevents her from enforcing local anti-gun measures that are more restrictive than anything on the state’s books. Now she’s reached back into her bag of too-cute-by-half gun controller’s tricks to come up with yet another new policy for dealing with lawful concealed carriers who want to enter city hall to transact business.
Let’s recap, shall we? Muoio, who’s described by her hometown paper as “ardently anti-gun,” initially decided to say FU to Tallahassee and keep West Palm’s existing restrictions in place. But once a city lawyer explained to her that she’d face heavy personal fines and could – quelle nightmare! – actually be removed from office, she re-thought that plan.
Instead of defiance, Herroner the Mayor decided intimidation and inconvenience might work and still keep her in technical compliance with state law. Diktat number two required gunnies wishing to enter her little fiefdom to have a personal police escort while in the building. As you might expect, that didn’t go over well, either. Public outcry and claims that the escorts might constitute unlawful detention sent her back to her hoplophobic drawing board.
Swing number three at the state’s high hard one thrown her way doesn’t seem much more likely to pass legal – 0r public opinion – muster.
Citizens with a concealed weapons permit will be allowed to enter city hall with a gun. However, the gun owner will only be allowed to remain on the first floor, and a police officer will be stationed by the elevators for enforcement.
“The first floor is the public area. Everything else is non-public,” City Attorney Claudia McKenna said at Thursday’s agenda review meeting.
But floors 2 through 5, including the commissioners’ and mayor’s offices, are “business offices,” not public spaces required to be open to gun-holders, she said.
State law doesn’t allow guns in meetings with a governing body, so guns will be banned from the commission auditorium during city meetings. A city spokesman would not say whether officers will be stationed outside the auditorium or by the staircase that leads to the second floor, to keep anyone from violating the rule.
What the policy doesn’t appear to take into account is what happens when a citizen has business to conduct with the mayor, the building commissioner, or any of the other “business offices” on one of the upper floors. Will those officials come down to floor one to deal directly with the virtually radioactive gun-carrying citizens who have to deal with the city?
Muoio seems willing to do just about anything to publicly beclown herself in order to establish her anti-gun bona fides and let the state government know she’s not going to be pushed around. Instead, she looks foolish and is unlikely to prevail in the end.
Florida’s had a law preventing more restrictive local gun rules for years. The new, harsher penalties that take effect tomorrow were enacted specifically for recalcitrant cities like West Palm that continued to raise a figurative middle finger at the state edict. Muoio seems hell-bent on provoking a legal challenge to her efforts to have things her way. It remains to be seen if the good people of West Palm Beach are willing to pay the legal bills necessary to indulge her.