Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Romano: Orlando shooting was a tragedy, not a political opportunity

On this, Democrats in the Florida Legislature are absolutely correct:

We should be having conversations about every available method to limit gun purchases by potential terrorists. That is painfully, and mournfully, obvious.

And yet Democrats are absolutely wrong in pushing for a special legislative session.

Because that's not a conversation, it's a publicity stunt. And, in some ways, it's as shameful as being one of those head-bobbing, NRA puppets that Democrats are always complaining about in Tallahassee.

Think I'm kidding?

First of all, the chances of a special session being called are remote. And the chances of a bill being passed in that atmosphere are even more remote. And the chances of Gov. Rick Scott signing such a bill are fantastically remote.

And Democrats know all of that.

So why soldier on in such a hopeless cause?

You could say Democrats are following their hearts. That they are making sure the problem is not forgotten, and that they are taking a stand on behalf of Florida residents.

Or you could say they are trying to make themselves look better at the GOP's expense.

That last one gets my vote.

And that's regrettable.

Because, as much as Democrats believe they have righteousness on their side, you don't get to claim the high road when you're driving over someone else to get there.

If you really want to solve this problem, you attack it thoughtfully. You talk to the other side and learn about their concerns. You figure out the potential problem spots, and you compromise when necessary. Above all else, you let the other party claim victory.

You certainly don't start by grandstanding, and then feign outrage when you're rebuffed.

The truth is, this issue is not as simple as it might sound. We can all agree that it's a bad idea for a would-be terrorist, or an ISIS sympathizer, to have easy access to guns.

But where do you start? The terrorist watch list, in the past, has been an imperfect instrument. And, with legislators proposing this as a state law, how much access will Florida have to the federal database? And where does due process enter the equation?

When the ACLU and the NRA both have reservations about a proposed law, it's a pretty clear sign that there is not an obvious solution.

I'm not saying that it can't be done, but I am suggesting it's more nuanced than simply saying we're going to get tough on terrorism.

Of course, there is a rather huge flaw I'm overlooking.

With such an overwhelming presence in the Legislature, Cabinet and Governor's Mansion, the Republican Party of Florida rarely compromises. And it's true that GOP politicians become gutless, quivering wimps whenever NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer walks into a room.

But Democrats haven't had much success shaming or humiliating Republicans into responsible public policy in the recent past, and there is no reason to believe the GOP will be swayed by news conferences this time around.

The bottom line is this issue is too important for gamesmanship. It's too sensitive for political rhetoric and individual glory.

And if you don't understand that, there are 49 grieving families who might be able to explain it better.

Romano: Orlando shooting was a tragedy, not a political opportunity 06/29/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 29, 2016 9:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash


    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  2. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.
  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle


    MEXICO CITY — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

    Rescue workers search for survivors inside a felled office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City on Saturday.
  5. GOP health bill in major peril as resistance hardens among key senators


    WASHINGTON — The floundering Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act met hardening resistance from key GOP senators Sunday that left it on the verge of collapse even as advocates vowed to keep pushing for a vote this week.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, said Sunday that it was “very difficult” to envision voting for this health-care bill.