MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) – Commissioner James Satcher is trying to change the policy in Manatee County that prohibits county employees from carrying concealed weapons while at work. He first brought up the issue during a public meeting last month.
“Manatee County has over 2,000 employees and right now there’s an HR policy that none of them are allowed to conceal carry, so they are not allowed to exercise their Second Amendment right,” Commissioner Satcher said. “I just brought up that I think that is wrong and I think we are setting people up to be in a bad situation if we are not allowing law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment right.”
The current policy prohibits the possession, use or threat of use of a deadly weapon while on duty on county property or in a county vehicle.
“This is about security and safety. I want moms to get home to their families, I want dads to get home. I want people to make it home,” the District One commissioner said. “The worst thought in the world is if someone were to not make it home and me look back and say, ‘you know, you didn’t do what you could have done to help them.'”
The majority of commissioners seemed open to exploring Satcher’s idea further. Last month, they ultimately directed staff to bring back a policy change for a vote at a later date.
Commissioner Reggie Bellamy voted against the motion in May.
“I am in full support of the Second Amendment. I am a carrier, to be honest with you, and I believe in making sure I have the right to defend myself. Certain areas, that should not apply,” said Commissioner Bellamy. “My position won’t change. I think we need to focus on security protocols.”
The commissioner says he does not believe weapons belong in the workplace.
“I think we need to be proactive instead of reactive. The proactive approach would be the security protocols and identifying ways to keep weapons away from the workforce completely,” said Bellamy. “Across our country right now, we have had some very unfortunate situations and the reality of it, in my opinion, if security protocols were in place, that is a way that we could have been a little bit more proactive.”
The Manatee County NAACP recently released a statement strongly opposing a policy change that would allow permitted county employees to carry firearms at work.
“We further believe this proposed action is simply asking for trouble and creating a potentially wild west environment. We, along with most Americans, believe citizens have the right to bear arms, however governmental institutions without a law enforcement foundation and focus should not be the place to allow employees to carry firearms,” the statement said.
The organization argued the policy change would put citizens in danger and create “a potentially dangerous volatile work environment.”
“A better solution for the county would be to institute metal detectors at entrances and continue to utilize full-time paid law enforcement officer during business hours as used during commission meetings,” the statement continued.
Commissioner Satcher told us he stands by his belief that “gun-free zones are criminal empowerment zones.”
“I think we are at a spot where we need to make a decision. Are we just gonna pass more rules, write more things and just hope for the best or are we going to take a real look at the problem and realize that there are bad people, there are criminals, there always have been and we need to be empowering the good God-fearing American people to defend themselves from those who mean them harm,” said Commissioner Satcher.
The policy change is expected to come before the commission following their summer recess.