Friday, September 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: The real forces behind mass shootings

Itís the refrain by gun advocates in the wake of every mass shooting: The attacker was mentally ill. They obtained their gun illegally. The message is that gun violence isnít about guns but mental instability and gaps in law enforcement. But a recent FBI report suggests this is not the case: Most attacks are planned and carried out by people who legally own a weapon and have no mental health histories. The findings show more needs to be done in restricting access to weapons and in identifying and responding to warning signs.

The FBI study, provided last month to the Washington Post, found that while the attacks differed in locations and in their level of carnage, some common elements were apparent. The shooters were often motivated by grievances in their lives, the study found, and many planned their assaults methodically and used guns they legally owned. The study examined dozens of active shooters between 2000 and 2013, and in a first of its kind, relied almost entirely on law enforcement files rather than court records or media accounts. That focused study gave the FBI a perspective of the shooter through interviews with people who knew him, and through the attackerís personal writings and school or work record.

"Offenders donít snap," said Andre Simons, a special agent of the FBIís Behavioral Analysis Unit, and the studyís co-author. Rather, he said, the decision to attack is part of a long process. The study found that 77 percent of attackers spent at least a week planning their assault, which suggests forethought and design. Most shooters were driven by a grievance ó legitimate or not ó that gave the shooting a sense of purpose. Whether the spark was the loss of a job or a breakdown in a relationship, many shooters responded by launching attacks in places familiar to them and singling out people they held responsible.

The findings counter the assessments by gun rights advocates and some conservative politicians in the wake of mass shootings that the attackers must be mentally ill or must have taken advantage of weak enforcement of existing gun laws. While the study found that some shooters had experienced depression or anxiety, it noted many Americans exhibit the same symptoms and found only 25 percent of attackers had been diagnosed with mental illness. That is a cautionary note about making any link between shootings and mental health, and it is consistent with other recent research that attributed most violent behavior to other factors. And most used guns they bought legally, which authorities say was the case in the Las Vegas massacre that killed 58 people last year and in the shooting in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that killed 17 people.

The FBI study noted friends and family typically have observed a string of warning signs before a shooting. That underscores the need for more intervention to address a personís troubles at home, work or school from festering into a plan for violence. And the gun laws still make it too quick and easy for almost anyone to get their hands on a firearm. A ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines would reduce the level of carnage shooters have visited on schools, churches, movie theaters and other public places. But as the latest study confirms, it will take an all-the-above strategy to spot danger before shootings and to be proactive in restricting access to guns that have no legitimate civilian purpose.

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Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

Editorial: Putnam hire stinks of patronage, secrecy

In addition to a lesson on political patronage, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam needs a refresher on the particulars of state public records law.In January 2017, Putnam hired the 27-year-old son of a former Publix executive to a high-pay...
Published: 09/20/18
Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Editorial: Investigate first, then hold Kavanaugh confirmation vote

There should be a timely investigation of the allegation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh before senators hear from him and his accuser, let alone vote on whether they should confirm his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The proces...
Published: 09/20/18
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...
Published: 09/19/18
Updated: 09/20/18
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: 09/19/18

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 "expectationíí is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18