Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Slow, steady progress on sensible gun control

The gun debate following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre focused on the biggest possible changes that ultimately failed to pass the Florida Legislature, including banning automatic weapons and large-capacity magazines, and expanding criminal background checks. But smaller steps that were adopted are helping, and it’s clear that preventing more mass shootings requires multiple approaches.

The new state law enacted following the Parkland shooting that killed 17 includes a new tool for the justice system to remove firearms from those who are a threat to themselves or to others. While some critics painted it as a threat to Second Amendment rights, early signs in Tampa Bay indicate it is being applied judiciously and in cases where public safety should be the overriding concern.

For example, a Hillsborough County man had his guns taken away after he drank too much, argued with his girlfriend and followed her to her sister’s home, where arrest reports say he was armed with a rifle and pistol, kicked in the door and vowed: "I’m going to kill all of you and then kill myself."

Hillsborough courts have logged six risk protection cases. Pinellas County has had seven; Pasco County, three. Police who seek a risk protection order meet privately with a judge, who can issue a temporary order to seize the weapons. A public hearing follows within two weeks. Law enforcement bears the burden of proving by convincing evidence that the person is a violent risk. If a judge is persuaded, the order becomes final for a year. The lawbalances due process rights with a recognition that guns pose a unique danger. U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson have pushed bipartisan legislation that would encourage other states to pass similar laws.

The Hillsborough County Commission also responded to the Parkland tragedy by extending the waiting period to purchase a firearm in the county to five days from three. While state law bars local governments from enacting gun laws, that statute is trumped by the state Constitution, which mandates a three-day waiting period and gives counties the option to extend it to five.

A report by the Tampa Bay Times’ Laura C. Morel last week also showed that Hillsborough leads the state in submitting the names of people with mental health histories who are banned from buying firearms. Today, 47 states require a review of mental health records during gun background checks. But other jurisdictions that don’t take this job seriously create gaps in the system, enabling those who shouldn’t have a gun to possess one. Florida’s auditor general concluded in 2016 that many counties don’t comply with reporting obligations. Nearly 20 percent of mental health records are entered late into the background check database, according to a report by Politico. Now the state is asking the Justice Department to fund a project in Miami-Dade aimed at ensuring clerks report the information within one month.

There are many moving parts to make the nation safer from gun violence. It will take reforms big and small, and the concerted effort by public officials to follow through on laws and regulations already aimed at keeping guns from the wrong hands.

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Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

Editorial: Immigrants help to make America great

The heated debate on immigration could benefit from some more facts, which the U.S. Census has helpfully provided. And the facts show that rather than building walls, the United States would do far better to keep opening doors to legal immigrants. Th...
Updated: 6 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...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
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 "expectation’’ is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18
Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

Editorial: Stalled U.S.-Cuba relations hurting Florida business

After an encouraging start, the breakdown in America’s reset with Cuba is a loss for both sides and for the state of democracy across the region. Havana and Washington are both to blame, but the Trump administration’s hard line with Cuba is out of sy...
Published: 09/12/18
Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

Lessons from Moonves’ ouster

If the swift departure of CBS Chairman Les Moonves has a bright side, it’s that a major television network took accusations of sexual harassment against its chief executive seriously enough to hold him accountable and obtain his resignation even at t...
Published: 09/11/18
Updated: 09/14/18