Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Trump’s encouraging message on guns

With most Floridians focused on the Legislatureís struggles to pass a school safety bill, President Donald Trump has advanced the gun control debate nationally by embracing proposals to strengthen criminal background checks and raise the minimum age for buying rifles nationwide. Itís never certain whether this president will stick to his position or reverse course in a tweet, but for now there is a glimmer of hope in Washington for reasonable gun control. These steps would plug crucial gaps in gun laws regardless of what happens in Tallahassee, and they would bring the balance between gun rights and safety more in line with public opinion.

Trumpís remarks last week during a meeting with members of Congress that was broadcast live surprised both Republicans and Democrats. He supported a series of gun control measures long opposed by the National Rifle Association, calling for raising the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21 and expanding background checks to include buyers of weapons at gun shows, on the internet or through private sales. He also called for stronger approaches, including the expanded use of police power, to seize weapons from unstable individuals.

Just like Gov. Rick Scott and Republican legislative leaders, Trump refused to call for a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. Just like state legislators, he joined the NRA in pushing to arm teachers in the schools ó a terrible idea that would not make campuses safer. Still, increasing the age requirement for buying rifles and closing the loopholes on gun purchases are solid ideas that would enhance public safety. And by looking to Congress to change federal law, Trump is creating an opportunity to apply better safeguards at the national level.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who attended the session with the president, apparently was unmoved by Trumpís call. In a speech Thursday on the Senate floor, Rubio took a far narrower approach by calling for new federal grants to harden schools, crisis teams of teachers to better identify campus threats, new resources to crack down on straw gun buyers and fill gaps in the background reporting system, and court restrictions to remove guns from those suspected of posing a danger.

Virtually all of these measures Rubio embraced enjoy bipartisan support and are reflected in state legislation that advanced in Florida. To the extent his suggestions would enhance the federal response, agencies already have authority to correct many of these gaps in the system. Rubio suggested he is open to debating more serious measures, such as raising the age limits to buy a rifle and limits on high-capacity magazines. But thatís little more than acknowledging the broad public support for those changes rather than providing the leadership needed at this moment.

Trump tends to toss out proposals for dramatic effect, then switch positions when it suits him. But the president should continue to stand up to the NRA and encourage Congress to at least make these modest changes in raising the age limit for buying rifles and closing the so-called gun show loophole. Voters and prominent business leaders have made it clear they support those reforms, and they should keep making their voices heard.

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Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Donít fall for Constitution Revision Commissionís tricks

Editorial: Donít fall for Constitution Revision Commissionís tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the stateís fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the November b...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Rednerís court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region wonít make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Floridaís citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nationís health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

Editorial: St. Petersburg should move carefully on banning straws

St. Petersburg city officials are exploring how to cut down on single-use plastic straws, a commendable effort to make the city even more environmentally minded. But to succeed, City Council members should craft a modest, reasonable restriction that ...
Published: 04/10/18