Sunday, January 21, 2018
Editorials

Don't abandon gun-control debate

After 13 years of inactivity, Pasco commissioners decided Tuesday that another delay wouldn't matter and retreated from a public discussion of tighter controls of local firearm purchases.

Citing pending lawsuits involving Pinellas and Palm Beach counties, the Pasco County's legal staff suggested commissioners wait for the courts to rule. Commissioners postponed indefinitely a planned public hearing on whether to pursue a gun-control ordinance. The proposal likely would have mandated three-day waiting periods and background checks on firearm purchases conducted by private sellers at publicly accessible locations like flea markets and gun shows.

The delay is unfortunate, but understandable since enforcement is now in question. However, delay should not become synonymous with abandonment just because a similar ordinance is subject to a lawsuit in the Sixth Judicial Circuit. In that case, a Clearwater attorney sued Pinellas County last year, saying he unfairly had to wait four days to complete the purchase of a shotgun on private property.

In Palm Beach County, commissioners are suing Gov. Rick Scott, contending he overstepped his authority by signing 2011 legislation that punishes local government officials who usurp state firearm regulations.

The bullying of local governments by Scott isn't the only dubious activity here. After agreeing to the delay Tuesday, Commissioner Jack Mariano offered a substitute to the gun-show proposal –- an emergency resolution, borrowed from Collier County, in which commissioners state their public support for the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

"I'm not signing it,'' said Commissioner Pat Mulieri who had asked for consideration of a Pasco ordinance after the December shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.

Mariano would better serve the public if he waited until September and then introduced a resolution supporting the U.S. Constitution. He can tie it to recognition of Sept. 17 as Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the document at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. By doing that, commissioners can honor the Constitution – all of it – instead of pandering to the politically influential supporters of a single amendment.

Meanwhile, commissioners should be diligent in pursuing their own ordinance. Florida voters gave local governments the ability to close the gun-show loophole in 1998, just six months after the shooting rampage of Hank Earl Carr that left three police officers and a 4-year-old boy dead. Carr, a convicted felon with a history of violent crime, had obtained a portion of his arsenal at gun shows without a background check. Carr killed one of the officers, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper James B. Crooks, at the Interstate 75 exit on State Road 54 in Wesley Chapel.

After the 1998 constitutional amendment, commissioners ordered their staff to draft controls on gun purchases, but rejected the proposed ordinance 13 years ago in the face of a vocal opposition from gun owners.

That long-standing ambivalence should end. The next time the commission considers local control of gun purchases, it should give greater weight to the memory of Crooks than to the machinations of Mariano.

Comments
Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

Editorial: Too soon for Tampa Bay to settle for buses over light rail

The good news on the transportation front is that Tampa Bay’s government and business leaders are working together like never before to connect the region’s largest cities, attractions and employment centers with a more robust mass transit system. Th...
Published: 01/20/18
Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

Editorial: Criminal charges should finally wake up FSU fraternities to hazing’s dangers

The death last fall of a 20-year-old Florida State University fraternity pledge revealed pervasive dangerous behavior within the school’s Greek system. Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus party, and a...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Published: 01/19/18
William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

William March: Tampa Bay Democrats line up for state legislative races

A surge of Democrats seeking local legislative offices and hoping for a "blue wave" in the 2018 election continued last week, led by Bob Buesing filing to run again versus state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa.In addition:• Heather Kenyon Stahl of Tampa has...
Published: 01/19/18
Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

Editorial: Saying ‘thank you’ helps Tampa police build needed trust

The smiles, applause and at least one hug belied the grim impetus for a gathering last week at a neighborhood center in Tampa — the Seminole Heights killings.The Tampa Police Department held a ceremony to thank those who helped in the investigation t...
Published: 01/19/18

Editorial: State’s warning shot should get attention of Hillsborough schools

The state Board of Education hopefully sent the message this week with its warning shot about the slow pace of the turnaround at Hillsborough County’s low-performing schools.The board criticized the school system for failing to replace administrators...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Published: 01/18/18

Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18