Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Don’t cut corners on gun background checks

Floridians donít have a constitutional right to carry a concealed weapon. But a proposal from Adam Putnam, the state agriculture commissioner who is running for governor, would prioritize access to gun permits over public safety. There is no reason to change the law, and legislators should reject this proposal.

Nearly a half million Floridians applied for gun permits last year. Less than 1 percent ó or about 2,400 ó were rejected because a background check did not confirm they were legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon, such as showing that an old charge had been dismissed or that the personís civil rights, including the right to own a firearm, had been restored. Putnamís unwise solution: the state would look harder for the records, but if they canít be found after 90 days the permit would be issued anyway. Should criminal records turn up later that reveal a person should not be walking around with a handgun tucked in their pocket, the license would be "immediately suspended and revoked." If the idea werenít so dangerous it would be laughable.

There is precedent in state law about incomplete background checks. Gun purchasers in Florida are subject to a check through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. If the FDLE is missing information about a case that might disqualify someone from being allowed to buy a gun, it has three days to find it. After that time, the buyer gets a "conditional approval." While Putnamís proposal includes a longer time frame for locating missing records, it follows the same wrong-headed approach. Carrying a firearm in public is a serious responsibility, and there should be no exceptions to requiring a complete background check.

But prudence is taking a back seat to Putnamís political ambitions as the Republican gubernatorial primary heats up. Labeled the immediate front-runner when he announced his candidacy in May, he is polishing his conservative credentials against Ron DeSantis, a three-term U.S. House member and a favorite of President Donald Trump, who jumped into the race last month. And Richard Corcoran, the powerful Florida House speaker, is expected to announce his bid after the legislative session. Putnam pronounced himself a "proud NRA sellout" on Twitter last year, and this measure is sure to put him in even better standing with gun-rights groups. Florida Carry has threatened to sue him for taking too long to process applications over missing records ó as if thorough background checks are a nuisance instead of a basic public safety precaution.

The proposed change to background checks for concealed weapons permits is in a key bill that governs routine operations at the Department of Agriculture. Criminal background checks are Floridaís lone backstop for ensuring guns donít end up in the wrong hands, and 2,400 is too many people to allow a pass. Lawmakers should strip this proposal from the bill and put Floridiansí safety first.

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Wednesday’s letters: How home rule can help fight Red Tide

Red Tide on march | Sept. 18How home rule can help fight Red TideAt the end of 2005, as Red Tide ravaged the beaches and intracoastal waterways of Southwest Florida, volunteers from the Suncoast Sierra Club formed a coastal task force to begin de...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Cartoons for Wednesday, Sept. 19

Cartoons for Wednesday, Sept. 19

Editorial cartoons from Times wires
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18

Column: We’re measuring the economy all wrong

Ten years after the collapse of Lehman Bros., the official economic statistics — the ones that fill news stories, television shows and presidential tweets — say that the U.S. economy is fully recovered.The unemployment rate is lower tha...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectationíí is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18