Town of Palm Beach News

Gun Rights Activist Speaks At Town Council Meeting

Tuesday’s Town Council meeting in the Town of Palm Beach got off to a tense start when a Port St. Lucie gun rights activist hit back at town officials who earlier criticized the pro-gun group Florida Carry, as first reported by the Palm Beach Daily News.

“Myself and others educate, not intimidate,” said Michael Taylor, who is a member of Florida Carry, to Mayor Gail Coniglio, council members, and Town Manager Kirk Blouin.  “We go to educate people about gun rights and how they are trying to pass unconstitutional laws that only hurt law-abiding citizens, not criminals.”

Town officials listened to Taylor and did not respond during the meeting. The council was aware that Taylor planned to attend the meeting and speak during the period set aside for public comment. Police presence at the meeting was increased from the usual one officer to several officers. Taylor and a companion, who spoke about cyclists’ rights, left the chambers without incident.

Taylor was among a small group of gun-rights activists who caused a scene on March 23 when they carried rifles with them on the Royal Park Bridge. 

Such open display of firearms is generally illegal, but there are exceptions, including cases where those carrying the weapons are fishing, camping or lawfully hunting. 

Gun Rights Activist Speaks At Town Council Meeting

Taylor and his companions had fishing poles with them on March 23, but no bait, tackle or freshly caught fish.

At the April 9 Town Council Meeting, Blouin said that Florida Carry members travel around the state and exploit “loopholes” in the gun laws. Since they aren’t breaking the law, police cannot prevent their behavior.

“They came here to agitate the community and try to provoke us into a lawsuit,” Blouin said.

Taylor was not at the April 9 meeting, but on Tuesday he objected to Blouin’s statement, and said that he was on the bridge to fish that day.

After the meeting, Blouin expressed that there would have been no point in engaging Taylor in a debate.

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“He was given his three minutes to speak freely,” said Blouin, referring to the three-minute time limit for citizen comment. “What would have been the point in a public debate? It was fairly obvious we didn’t agree with him. We had other business on the agenda to attend to.”

Last month, the council called on Coniglio to write a letter to state officials requesting a change in legislation that would close the fishing loophole. According to an employee in Blouin’s office, as of Wednesday, that letter was still being drafted.

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Alanna Barrett

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