May 12, 2022 - Politics

Manatee County debates arming employees

Illustration of a question mark made out of guns.

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Manatee County may soon have an armed workforce.

What's happening: Manatee's board of commissioners debated for two hours Tuesday after Commissioner James Satcher proposed a policy change that would allow employees to arm themselves while at work, per the Bradenton Herald.

Context: Those properly licensed in Manatee can bring firearms on county property, but county employees are prohibited from carrying guns on the job.

What they're saying: "Gun-free zones should be called criminal empowerment zones. They basically just let the bad guys know exactly where to target," Satcher said at a public meeting, per the Herald.

  • "I feel we have a similar situation right now with (nearly) 2,000 county employees that are not allowed to exercise their Second Amendment rights while they're at work."

The other side: Commissioner Reggie Bellamy was the only one to vote Tuesday against researching a new policy, proposing instead a review of the county's security systems. He expressed concern about a county employee shooting a coworker or a member of the public.

  • "We do want to make sure everyone is protected, but we can take different angles to make sure those protections are in place," Bellamy said at the meeting.

What's next: Commissioners voted to direct county staff to research the issue before it's brought up again at a public meeting on July 26.


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