Saturday, November 17, 2018
Editorials

Research is needed to curb mass killings

Last week, it was a newsroom in Annapolis, Md. About a month ago, it was Santa Fe High School in Texas. And in February, it was a high school in Parkland, Fla. Regardless of our politics, there couldn’t be any stronger warning sign that something is going wrong in our country than the prevalence of mass shootings.

So we were more than a little encouraged recently when folks from the Texas-based Laura and John Arnold Foundation stopped by our offices to talk about an initiative they’ve launched to do something about this problem.

There are a lot of people who call for something to be done, but what stands out about the Arnold Foundation’s work is that it attempts to bridge the political divide that stymies discussion. The foundation focuses on taking the first crucial step of gathering information before offering policy prescriptions.

Here is what the Arnold Foundation is doing: Over the next five years, it has pledged to spend $20 million on research into gun violence, and efforts to encourage others to engage in such research. In the short run, the foundation hopes to raise an additional $30 million in private funds. And the foundation is also collaborating with the Rand Corp. to collect and analyze empirical evidence needed to ascertain what could make a meaningful difference.

In the long run, the foundation’s goal is more ambitious. It hopes to spark a massive — private and government —research effort. The ultimate aim, of course, is to draw the federal government into the research effort. That would provide substantial dollars as well as pull in talented researchers from across the country.

If this sounds like so many previous efforts, it’s not. In this case, the Arnold Foundation is reaching out to organizations that support gun rights — including the National Rifle Association —and is starting from the premise that the Second Amendment protects gun ownership in America. Those working on this initiative hope that the Heller decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the individual right to own guns, can be used to change the national narrative so gun enthusiasts can feel empowered to work with others to find new ways to reduce gun violence.

Even though the intention of this initiative is to find ideas that can reduce violence — not simply offer a litany of the same old gun-control proposals — we recognize that this will be a heavy lift. There is substantial opposition to using federal dollars for such research out of fear that it would be used to advocate for a one-sided political agenda.

There may be no way to allay such fears, other than to conduct research that demonstrates there are many ways to save lives without violating individual rights. And to that end, we’re encouraged to see the Arnold Foundation’s efforts and look forward to seeing the fruits of this initiative.

Comments
Column: Following through on Hillsborough education referendum

Column: Following through on Hillsborough education referendum

Your vote sends a message to our leaders that we value education.
Published: 11/16/18
Editorial: No substitute for state support of schools

Editorial: No substitute for state support of schools

Local referendums cannot make up for Tallahassee’s cuts.
Published: 11/16/18
Editorial: Riverwalk a defining civic space in Tampa

Editorial: Riverwalk a defining civic space in Tampa

Tampa's Riverwalk continues to grow into its own.This month, the American Planning Association named the linear park along the Hillsborough River through downtown Tampa as the winner of its "People's Choice" award. Part of the association's...
Published: 11/16/18
Editorial: Fee on single-use bags reasonable

Editorial: Fee on single-use bags reasonable

St. Petersburg’s proposed 5-cent fee on shopping bags could encourage better consumer habits.
Published: 11/16/18
Editorial: The enormous public cost of domestic violence

Editorial: The enormous public cost of domestic violence

Domestic violence carries a huge price tag in addition to the human toll.
Published: 11/15/18
Editorial: Warren takes positive step to advance justice in Hillsborough

Editorial: Warren takes positive step to advance justice in Hillsborough

The Conviction Review Unit follows through on a campaign pledge to review past conviction cases.
Published: 11/14/18
Editorial: Tone down the rhetoric, focus on counting votes

Editorial: Tone down the rhetoric, focus on counting votes

President Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott should stop making unfounded claims of voter fraud.
Published: 11/13/18
Editorial: Get Hillsborough transit priorities in shape

Editorial: Get Hillsborough transit priorities in shape

Hillsborough County scored a historic win this month when voters approved a one-cent sales tax to pay for transportation improvements. The $9 billion or more it will generate over the next 30 years should transform mobility across the region and impr...
Published: 11/12/18
Editorial: Deadly danger of wrong-way driving

Editorial: Deadly danger of wrong-way driving

The state is taking action to minimize wrong-way crashes
Published: 11/11/18
Updated: 11/12/18
Editorial: Makeover on the Pinellas School Board

Editorial: Makeover on the Pinellas School Board

Three veterans depart, clearing the way for new faces
Published: 11/09/18
Updated: 11/12/18