Tuesday, October 16, 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: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

Editorial: Bilirakis mimics Trump, colleagues in misleading voters

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis wants voters to believe he is different than his Republican colleagues in Congress and President Donald Trump. The Palm Harbor Republican says he pays more attention to local issues than to the president, claims he doesnȁ...
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Editorial: Tampa water project benefits entire region

Editorial: Tampa water project benefits entire region

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Editorial: Rays’ purchase of Rowdies good for St. Petersburg

Editorial: Rays’ purchase of Rowdies good for St. Petersburg

The Tampa Bay Rays’ purchase of the Rowdies soccer team adds some stability to the region’s roster of professional sports franchises. It also guarantees that the Rowdies, who have amassed an enthusiastic fan base in a short time, will k...
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Editorial: Remember Mexico Beach when next evacuation order comes

Editorial: Remember Mexico Beach when next evacuation order comes

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Shortsighted opposition to TECO

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Published: 10/12/18
Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

Editorial: Answering questions about Hillsborough school tax

The Hillsborough County school tax on the Nov. 6 ballot is a smart, necessary investment in the nation's eighth-largest school system. The 10-year, half-penny sales tax would create stronger, safer schools and a healthier learning environment for mor...
Published: 10/12/18
Times recommends: Chronister for Hillsborough sheriff

Times recommends: Chronister for Hillsborough sheriff

Florida sheriffs have long hand-plucked their successors from within the ranks. While he is a product of this tradition, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister is uniquely qualified to be elected on his own merits.Then-Sheriff David Gee surprise...
Published: 10/11/18
Updated: 10/12/18
Times recommends: Yes on Florida Supreme Court retention

Times recommends: Yes on Florida Supreme Court retention

One justice on the Florida Supreme Court faces a merit retention vote in November, essentially an up-or-down vote of confidence allowing him to remain on the bench. Merit retention votes occur at least one year after the justice’s initial appo...
Published: 10/11/18
Times recommends: Yes on retaining 4 appeals judges

Times recommends: Yes on retaining 4 appeals judges

The 2nd District Court of Appeal judges are on the Nov. 6 ballot for merit retention. Voters are being asked whether the appellate judges should be retained for another six-year term.Two pieces of information are helpful in deciding. First, the Flori...
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Times recommends: Vote no on Clearwater strong mayor

Times recommends: Vote no on Clearwater strong mayor

A handful of influential business leaders are understandably frustrated with Clearwater’s failure to rejuvenate its downtown and eager to duplicate the rebirth of downtowns in Tampa and St. Petersburg. But they have focused on the wrong soluti...
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