Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn joked to a room full of defense leaders and reporters that he would point twin 50-caliber machine guns at journalists and watch them “cry like little girls.”
Mayor Buckhorn was speaking at the Special Operations Industry Conference earlier this week.
Buckhorn was talking about his experience as a “hostage” during a demonstration of special ops rescue tactics, where he was a aboard a Navy special warfare boat and firing blanks from 50-cal machine guns.
“And so the first place I point that gun is at the media,” he told the conference attendees. “I’ve never seen grown men cry like little girls, for when that gun goes off those media folks just hit the deck like no one’s business. It’s great payback. I love it.”
Buckhorn’s father was a wire service reporter, and the Tampa mayor generally enjoys a good relationship with local press.
However, his remarks were soon being discussed on the Military Reporters & Editors Facebook page, which represents about 300 journalists.
“Personally, I was appalled,” Susan Katz Keating wrote. Katz Keating is a freelance writer and organization board member who was in the conference room Tuesday for the keynote address. She had guns pointed at her while covering unrest in Northern Ireland in 1988.
Buckhorn said critics of his statement are being sensitive, and that this is a “sill reaction” to a story he has told before.