Gardens feels helpless: Official didn’t know about gun show in town days after Douglas massacre


Emotional Palm Beach Gardens City Council members expressed anger at their helplessness to restrict gun sales in the wake of the mass shooting two weeks ago at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

RELATED: Parkland shootings: Governor expects ‘major reform’ on school safety by next week

Councilwoman Rachelle Litt said it’s an example of the effect of the state’s attack on home rule. She had no knowledge of a gun show at the Amara Shrine Temple days after the shooting until she received a Palm Beach Post news alert, nor could she have stopped it if she did, she said.

>>SHRINERS GUN SHOW: Gardens gun show faces ‘awkward’ timing

She has no control over “what type of murder machines” can be sold in the city because that power is reserved for state lawmakers, she said.

RELATED: South Broward students walk out of class, calling for gun control

A 2011 state law imposes fines on municipalities and counties that pass and enforce their own gun and ammunition laws. Mayors, councils and commission members can be hit with a personal $5,000 fine and removed by the governor if they violate the law.

RELATED: How youngsters at this school are honoring Stoneman Douglas survivors

The law was intended to protect gun owners from a patchwork of regulations that vary county to county. But it also forced the repeal of ordinances banning guns in government buildings and local parks.

Litt said her nieces graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and her sister and brother-in-law live across the street.

“But for the grace of God, it didn’t happen here. This time,” she said during a somber City Council meeting Thursday.

Vice Mayor Mark Marciano said even his hairdresser asked him what they were going to do about guns. She threatened that she wasn’t going to shop at The Gardens Mall anymore if Dick’s Sporting Goods follows through on its plans to sell guns in the second-floor space it wants to sublease from Sears, he said.

“We feel the same anger that everybody else does, and helplessness,” Marciano said. 

The parents of one of the girls who died in the shooting were recently at a soccer tournament with his family, he said, becoming choked with emotion. 

This week, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced that it would stop selling assault rifles and high-capacity magazines at its 36 Field & Stream stores. The company already stopped selling military-style weapons at Dick’s after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

The announcement does little to allay City Manager Ron Ferris’ fears about having guns and ammunition at the mall, which sees 8 to 10 million visitors each year.

“That’s certainly a step in the right direction,” Ferris said. “However, any sale of firearms inside the mall - it presents an opportunity that gives me a great concern for public safety.”

A wreath of red, white and blue flowers “in memory of the victims of Parkland, FL” stood outside the City Hall entrance before Thursday night’s council meeting. Mayor Maria Marino began the meeting by reading a proclamation naming Feb. 14  “A Day to Remember.” 

The proclamation included the names of the 17 people killed when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz brought an AR-15 into his former school and started shooting. 


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Original 'Kiss Me, Kate' star Patricia Morison dead at 103
Original 'Kiss Me, Kate' star Patricia Morison dead at 103

Patricia Morison, who played the shrewish lead role in the 1948 Cole Porter Broadway musical “Kiss Me, Kate,” died Sunday, Variety reported. She was 103.  Morison also appeared on stage with Yul Brynner in “The King and I” and starred in films such as “The Song of Bernadette.” She also appeared as Basil...
Wellington deals with ‘exceptional’ rainfall, water levels expected to rise
Wellington deals with ‘exceptional’ rainfall, water levels expected to rise

As rain continues to pound Palm Beach County, Wellington is working to mitigate the effects as days of storms add up.  The village received more than 4 inches of rain from Saturday afternoon through Sunday, Wellington said in a news release. “The village has received an exceptional amount of rainfall over the last four weeks,&rdquo...
LATEST: Man charged in Boynton drive-by that injures teen gets $20,000 bond
LATEST: Man charged in Boynton drive-by that injures teen gets $20,000 bond

An 18-year-old boy who allegedly shot and injured a teen in Boynton Beach Wednesday night was given a $20,000 bond by a Palm Beach County Court judge Saturday morning. Cleevens Altiner was arrested Friday and faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill and aggravated battery with a firearm. The judge ordered a $10...
Accused Santa Fe shooter won't get death penalty -- and could get paroled someday 
Accused Santa Fe shooter won't get death penalty -- and could get paroled someday 

Even though Dimitrios Pagourtzis was charged as an adult in the mass shooting at a southeastern Texas high school Friday, he will not face the death penalty and could even be eligible for parole someday, the Houston Chronicle reported. Pagourtzis, 17, a high school junior, admitted to the shootings that killed 10 and wounded 13, according to court...
Trump demands Justice Department probe claims of spying on his 2016 campaign
Trump demands Justice Department probe claims of spying on his 2016 campaign

In a tweet Sunday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he will demand that the Justice Department investigate whether it or the FBI spied on his 2016 presidential campaign for political reasons, CNN reported. "I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated...
More Stories