Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Gun reforms gaining ground in Congress

There are encouraging signs that Congress might wrestle free from the grip of the National Rifle Association. A growing number of lawmakers from both parties appear open to limiting the size of ammunition magazines and to closing the loopholes that enable criminals to buy guns without a background check. These are sensible reforms that put public safety first without infringing on the rights of legal gun owners. Lawmakers should seize this chance to establish common ground and reduce the emotion of an issue where lives hang in the balance.

The New York Times reported last week that more members of Congress are looking at the size of high-capacity magazines and the requirement for background checks as areas where legislators on both sides of the gun-rights issue might find agreement. That would represent a step forward for public safety and a new route around the impasse over assault weapons that has prompted Congress to stall on gun control for the better part of a decade.

Military-style assault weapons have no legitimate purpose off the battlefields. They are made for killing humans as rapidly as possible, and Congress should reimpose and extend the ban that expired in 2004. But any comprehensive measure would also address the high-capacity magazines that contribute to mass killings. And no responsible gun owner could object to closing the loopholes that allow roughly 40 percent of all gun sales to qualify as private transactions and thus not require the buyer to submit to a federal background check.

Banning magazines that can hold dozens of rounds might be an inconvenience for those who shoot targets. But it could save lives if it forces inexperienced shooters in particular to fumble and change magazines instead of continuing to fire away at victims. A poll last month found that nearly two-thirds of adults nationwide favor a limit on the size of magazines. This would be a useful step — and safe politically. Congress should not wait.

Requiring near-universal background checks would help, too, both in keeping weapons from criminals and the mentally ill and in tracking sales to crack down on straw buyers. Having the right to possess a gun does not come with the constitutional protection to deceive authorities who are obligated and entrusted to enforce the law. A criminal could still find ways to avoid even a universal check. But the change would fortify a safety net that is currently full of holes. And closer scrutiny of gun purchases could dampen the trafficking in guns by straw buyers who are nothing but conduits for crime.

Restricting magazine sizes and requiring more background checks of gun buyers does not come close to raising Second Amendment issues, except to the most extreme in the gun rights lobby. A ban on assault weapons should be included in the mix, but the stalemate over that issue should not derail every other positive step. There is growing public support for limiting magazine sizes and additional background checks, and Congress should pursue those measures now even if an assault weapons ban remains elusive.

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Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 9 hours ago
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: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s 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 state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s 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 won’t 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 Florida’s 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 nation’s 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