Sunday, December 17, 2017
Editorials

Gun show hearing is wise first step

Three Pasco commissioners practiced responsible governing Tuesday when they agreed to reconsider whether the county should join the rest of the Tampa Bay region in requiring federal firearm background checks and a three-day waiting period for all guns purchasers at local gun shows and flea markets. Nothing nearly so charitable can be said for two fellow commissioners, Jack Mariano and Henry Wilson, who embraced the same, tired rhetoric from gun rights advocates and hoped to shut down the discussion. Pasco will now have a debate and it's one worth having.

An estimated 40 percent of firearms are sold nationally absent background checks of the purchasers via transactions at gun shows or across the Internet. Licensed dealers are compelled to do criminal background checks of purchases through an FBI database. However, private dealers at gun shows and flea markets are exempt.

In 1998, Florida voters amended the state Constitution to allow individual counties to close that loophole. Eight counties did so – including Pinellas, Hillsborough and Hernando – but 13 years ago Pasco commissioners voted down their own ordinance in the face of strong opposition from gun owners.

The only commissioner still in office from then, Pat Mulieri, said she wants to revisit the issue in the wake of the slaying of 20 children at a Connecticut elementary school last month. President Barack Obama also has called for closing the gun show loophole nationally, but Pasco's Commission shouldn't duck their own responsibilities by avoiding consideration of a local ordinance.

On Tuesday, guns rights advocates attempted to argue that local enforcement would be problematic, questioning how the county can mandate a three-day waiting period on firearm purchases at a two-day gun sale. But that's just subterfuge as other counties have addressed that issue long ago.

GOP State Committeeman Bill Bunting was correct when he told commissioners that private owners have a right to sell their guns. But those vendors do not have the right to sell their wares to felons and others incapable of passing a background check. The sellers can dispose of their guns on consignment through a licensed dealer.

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives has said a quarter of the vendors at gun shows are private sellers, not licensed dealers. That provides ample access for prohibited buyers to acquire a firearm without a background check or record of the purchase. And, a 2009 New York City-sponsored undercover investigation of gun shows in Ohio, Tennessee and Nevada found nearly three-quarters of the gun sellers skirted federal law. The vendors sold to investigators who volunteered they couldn't pass a background check or else sold the firearm to a third-party who did pass muster in transactions known as straw purchases.

Mulieri, in following the advice of the county attorney, asked for a public hearing on the gun show rules before seeking a formal ordinance. The public input is welcome. Commissioners, however, must be prepared to separate fact from rhetoric and political expedience and they must act in the public's best interests.

Comments

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17