Monday, July 16, 2018
News Roundup

Romano: He’s willing to risk his career rather than stay silent on guns

Everyone is talking. Loudly, brashly and with misguided certitude.

The gun debate has elicited opinions from teenagers in South Florida, all the way to the Oval Office, and into every dark corner of the internet.

Yet in Tampa Bay, only one voice has been willing to risk his career to voice his conviction. Such a loud statement from such a soft-spoken man.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller is asking his colleagues to vote this week to ban assault-style weapons in the county.

He offered the proposal after talking with the county administrator, the county attorney and his family. He offered it after being advised he could be removed from office and fined $5,000 under a state law that forbids local gun legislation. He offered it after being told that if fellow commissioners agreed with him, the ban would still carry no weight since it would be superseded by state law.

Even so, he does not believe his gambit is without meaning.

"Maybe if we can start a conversation,’’ Miller said Friday, "we’ll finally see some action.’’

Miller is not the only one with a proposal. City commissioners in Coral Gables have advanced a local ban that could be voted on and enacted this week. Some mayors around the state also are talking about a constitutional amendment that could overrule state statutes.

Meanwhile, state leaders in Tallahassee have spent two weeks bickering in weary and predictable ways. Their willingness to listen is directly proportional to the demographics of their primaries.

Miller understands the dynamics. He was a legislator in the state House and Senate for 14 years. He also understands the local leaders who support his views but are wary of enlisting in the fight.

They do not have the perspective of a father who spent 18 days and nights in a Tallahassee hospital as his son recovered from multiple gunshot wounds.

Trey Miller was at a Florida A&M graduation party at a bar and grill in 1997 when a dispute from an unrelated group of men led to gunfire. Five people were shot. Trey took a bullet just below his heart.

"You can’t imagine how gut-wrenching it is to hear your child has a 50/50 chance of making it through the night," Miller said. "I’ve reflected on the pain and agony of that night, and I’ve thought about the parents who sent their children to school expecting them to be safe. And the people who went to a nightclub in Orlando to have a little fun and were never seen alive again.

"I’m not saying we shouldn’t have the right to bear arms. I’m saying the right to bear arms should not include assault weapons.’’

This is not a new position for Miller. Years before the incident with Trey — who is now a Tampa police officer — Miller introduced legislation in the House to ban assault weapons.

Predictably, it went nowhere.

We’ve been having the same debates for more than 20 years. Do you solve crime and violence with more guns, or fewer? Does a weapon with greater firepower make us safer, or more vulnerable? Should the Second Amendment be all-encompassing, or reasonably tempered?

The problem is there are no absolute answers, only differing shades of acceptable.

Where we lose is when we stop listening. Or, worse, when voices are silenced.

That’s what makes Miller’s stance important. Prodded by the political clout of the NRA, the state Legislature made it illegal for locally elected officials to advocate on this issue.

They became so beholden to the Second Amendment that they, more or less, trampled on the First Amendment.

Polls say more Floridians agree with Miller than disagree. And yet, he is facing fines and removal from office for doing his job as a public servant. No matter where you stand on gun issues, that should give you pause.

"I don’t know how my fellow county commissioners will vote. I don’t know if the governor will come after me,’’ Miller said. "What I do know is that something has to be done.’’

Comments
Bryce Harper wins All-Star home run derby

Bryce Harper wins All-Star home run derby

WASHINGTON — Nationals star Bryce Harper has not had a lot to enjoy in his last season before free agency, struggling — at least by his usual standards — with a .214 average and other deficiencies in his game.Monday turned out to be...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays journal: Some warn that pitching strategy comes at a price

Rays journal: Some warn that pitching strategy comes at a price

WASHINGTON — The success the Rays have had during two months of using a game opener followed by a relieving starter seems to have tamed some of the criticism of the unusual plan.Until Arizona ace Zack Greinke, a Cy Young award winner and five-t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays’ Blake Snell now in a starring role

Rays’ Blake Snell now in a starring role

WASHINGTON — Blake Snell first got the feeling after arriving at the All-Star hotel late Sunday night. He'd shared the first-class cabin on the Delta flight from Minneapolis with Rays teammate Wilson Ramos plus manager Kevin Cash and his wife, ...
Updated: 4 hours ago

ORLANDOwoman killed, 2 passengers hurt in crossfireAuthorities said a pregnant woman was fatally shot and two children were wounded Monday as someone fired from a moving vehicle during a chase in Florida. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the shooti...
Updated: 5 hours ago
More than 30 Riverview residents awaken to broken car windows

More than 30 Riverview residents awaken to broken car windows

RIVERVIEW — Residents in more than 30 households woke up Monday morning to find their car windows had been smashed in.The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said it is searching for a pair of males who may be connected to the incident.The vehicles,...
Updated: 6 hours ago
DNA site helps make arrest in 1988 slaying

DNA site helps make arrest in 1988 slaying

The last time 8-year-old April Tinsley was seen alive, a man was dragging her into a beat-up blue pickup truck in Fort Wayne, Indiana.Police and her family fanned out that Friday afternoon in April 1988, searching through the weekend, but there was n...
Updated: 6 hours ago

FHP: Tampa motorcyclist fatally struck by driver who ran red light

TAMPA — A 54-year-old motorcyclist was killed Sunday night after being struck by a driver who ran a red light, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash took place at about 9 p.m. at the intersection of Bearss Avenue and Interstate 275.Motorc...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Lutz man dies in motorcycle crash on I-275 in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG A 38-year-old man died Sunday night after the Florida Highway Patrol said he lost control of his motorcycle on Interstate 275.The crash took place just before 8 a.m. Michael Coniglio, of Lutz, was traveling in the northbound inside lan...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Gun-rights lobbyist’s TV promo misfires

RICHMOND, Va. — One of Virginia’s top gun-rights lobbyists drew criticism from his own supporters Monday after he was duped into promoting guns for children as young as 3 and hawking toys such as a teddy bear with a concealed pistol on a television s...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Hillsborough deputies locate owner of wandering horse

Hillsborough deputies locate owner of wandering horse

DOVER — Tampa Bay may be one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation but, in certain places, it stubbornly remains a little bit country.Proof of that came on last week when the Hillsborough County’s Sheriff’s Office was called to the ...
Updated: 7 hours ago