Christie: Should people be allowed to bring guns into the Tax Collector’s office?

A line of people waiting to get into the county Tax Collector’s office snakes through lobby of the Palm Beach County Governmental Center. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

What is going on? That’s the question a lot of folks had after reading the below op-ed from Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon earlier this month.

“Just last month, our agency experienced two incidents in our service centers when customers brought guns into our workplace. Sadly, these incidents frighten employees,” Gannon wrote.

Once again, Florida’s struggles with its image as “the Gunshine State” — and state lawmakers’ efforts to allow guns everywhere — has an unexpected consequence.

The tax collector is not exactly on everyone Christmas card list. And it just so happens that the holiday season coincides with the office’s busy property tax collection season.

RELATED: Christie commentary: Guns, shopping malls are a bad retail mix

Palm Beach County Tax Collector has asked state Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, to sponsor legislation outlawing guns from tax collector’s offices.

With all of that stress, Gannon felt that this not the place for folks to bring firearms — even those with concealed carry permits. She wants there to be a law.

These days, where folks can legally carry or purchase firearms is becoming a dicey issue. Attitudes depend on where you live in the state. For example, I heard that the Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Seminole Town Center in Sanford sells guns.

Is Gannon’s request infringing on Second Amendment rights?

 

POINT OF VIEW: Protect employees, public from workplace violence

Collecting taxes and fees from the public is not an easy job. The 300 dedicated employees of the Palm Beach County Tax Collector’s Office do their best to make the experience as pleasant and efficient as possible. Unfortunately, they must also serve angry and upset clients, some of whom threaten violence.

Just last month, our agency experienced two incidents in our service centers when customers brought guns into our workplace. Sadly, these incidents frighten employees.

Last month also marked the beginning of property tax collection, our busiest season, with agency employees serving nearly 7,000 clients in person at seven service centers across Palm Beach County. I am upset to think of the tragic consequences these two incidents could have had on our agency’s employees and the public we serve.

Workplace violence must be stopped; which is why I asked state Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, to introduce an amendment to Senate Bill 134 that would have helped protect Tax Collector office employees as well as the public.

The amendment would add all Tax Collector offices to the list of places where concealed weapon permit-holders are restricted from carrying guns. Examples of places already on this list include courthouses, polling places, schools and any meeting of the governing body of a county, public school district, municipality or special district. When you consider the amount of money our agency handles, the contentious nature of taxation and fees and the sheer number of clients we serve in person, it only makes sense to add Tax Collector offices to this list.

Unfortunately, Sen. Powell’s amendment did not even make it out of the Dec. 5 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. SB 134 sought to allow Floridians with concealed weapons licenses to carry firearms up to the entrance of courthouses. Fortunately, it was opposed 6-4.

The 2018 legislative session begins on Jan. 9. I urge you to contact your local representatives now to make your voice heard. We must continue to take action to protect employees and the public from workplace violence.

ANNE M. GANNON, WEST PALM BEACH

Editor’s note: Anne M. Gannon is the Palm Beach County tax collector.