UPDATED: Is Sarasota’s city manager seeking mandatory gun locks?

UPDATE: City Manager Tom Barwin said he wasn’t really calling for mandatory gun locks.

“I don’t think so,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “I thought it was a good, living example of how a firearm can end up in the wrong hands.”

Barwin said he was merely “providing background to our policy makers in terms of things that can happen.”

“These are prudent things for gun owners to do on a voluntary basis,” he said.

Of the statement in his email that said gun owners who lose firearms through burglary or theft should be held accountable, Barwin said he’d “leave that to the policy makers.”

I disagree with the good city manager.

In my humble opinion, he’s trying to instigate not inform.

That didn’t work last time.

In fact, it failed miserably.

EARLIER: One thing is clear, Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin does not like guns, gun owners or the NRA.

In the past, Barwin has cajoled the City Commission into voting on an “assault weapon” ban — an effort that eventually fizzled once Barwin and the commissioners learned the dire consequences they could have faced for trying to regulate firearms.

Florida’s powerful preemption statute allows only the legislature to regulate firearms. If a public official — such as a city commissioner — violates that statute, they can face fines of up to $5,000, which they must pay personally. If they’re an elected official — such as a city commissioner — they could face removal from office.

Now, in an email sent Friday to the entire City Commission, Barwin mentions a recent incident that occurred the day before on a Sarasota school bus.

Two juveniles were caught with a .38 revolver. Three were eventually charged.

“No students were injured and it was determined there was no further danger to the students or to the public,” Barwin’s email states.

And then the city manager takes it a step further.

“As you know the proliferation of firearms in our society often results in devastating costs and loss to individuals, family and community. Fortunately the incident below did not result in physical harm to the youth who were discovered to be in possession of a weapon, or anyone else, but I thought you might like to see a local example of one way weapons end up in circulation. While we cannot condone burglary or theft it seems those in possession of legal firearms should be accountable for securing their weapons safely as well, including from a simple burglary,” Barwin wrote.

It’s that last bit that’s worrisome, the should be accountable for securing their weapons part.

I certainly hope both Barwin and the Commissioners learned their lesson the last time they tried to regulate firearms.

It didn’t end well.

There was more than enough public embarrassment to share — enough for all involved.

Now, if they try to tell gun owners how to store their firearms, we could see Round Two.

Time will tell and, in the meantime, we’ll all be watching.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

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