Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Editorials

Another voice: A longshot bid on banning assault rifles

Since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the most extraordinary things keep happening.

A surge of protests forces Florida’s first small steps on gun control in 22 years. Students by the thousands stage walkouts at high schools nationwide to keep gun safety in the public mind. Momentum gathers for a huge demonstration Saturday in Washington to force action from Congress.

And now arises the chance — with long odds, but a chance nonetheless — of getting a proposed amendment onto November’s ballot that would allow Floridians to place a ban on assault-style rifles in the state Constitution. It’s a breathtaking possibility. And it deserves to be put before Florida voters.

On Monday, the state’s Constitution Revision Commission began meeting in Tallahassee to consider which of three dozen potential constitutional amendments to send to voters. Three of those proposals have been written in reaction to the Parkland shooting.

The most sweeping would raise the age of buying firearms to 21, impose a 10-day waiting period and require a "comprehensive" background check before a gun purchase, ban bump stocks, and — most dramatic of all — end the sale and possession of assault-style weapons, as well as detachable magazines with more than nine rounds of ammunition.

It will take 22 votes from the 37 commissioners for an amendment proposal to reach the 2018 general election ballot in November. Their deadline is May 10.

According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, 62 percent of Florida voters support a nationwide ban on the sale of "assault weapons." A Florida Atlantic University poll found a majority of voters of every party affiliation supporting stricter gun laws; 69 percent support a ban on assault rifles.

And a Public Policy Polling survey, commissioned by a coalition of progressive groups, found that 73 percent of Floridians would like the opportunity to vote on a semiautomatic assault weapons ban.

The commissioners should give Floridians that chance. And if they fail, a new political committee called Ban Assault Weapons is laying groundwork for an amendment on the 2020 ballot.

Commissioners can stand up for the people of the state, or they can continue to can carry the water for the closed-minded politicians who put most of them on the panel. The choice should be obvious.

Comments

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
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Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18