Monday, September 24, 2018
Public safety

No matter which side you’re on, gun violence threatens us all

Somehow, we’ve lost our way. Can we at least agree on that?

It seems as if half the population is scared of the people with guns, and the other half is scared of the people who want to take away their guns.

Either way, we get scenes like Sunday’s tragic shootings in downtown Jacksonville where one victim declared himself lucky because he was only shot in the thumb.

Think about that. We’ve reached a point where it’s not a shock to be involved in a mass shooting, but rather to have survived.

We have descended into a state of madness, and no one can agree on causes or solutions. One person looks at all the terror and the killings and says we obviously need to restrict guns. Another person looks at the same picture and says that’s exactly why we should be allowed to carry guns.

If we’re being honest, there are truths on both sides of that argument.

The larger issue is we are so far down the road that compromise seems futile. Guns have become so commonplace in Florida, it’s hard to imagine future restrictions having much effect. On the other hand, our current course feels like a nuclear arms race with mutually assured destruction on the horizon.

With all of that in mind, here are some gun-related numbers to ponder. Feel free to interpret any way you wish.

• • •

75.7 Percentage of murders committed with firearms in Florida in 2016-17. That’s the highest two-year rate since the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began tracking those figures in 1971. That means, if you’re murdered in this state, the odds are 3-to-1 you’ve been shot. Just 30 years earlier, in 1986-87, the rate of murders committed with a firearm was 48.4 percent.

• • •

2 Shootings at high school football games in Florida the past two weeks. On Aug. 17, two adults were seriously wounded when gunfire erupted in the parking lot of a preseason game at Palm Beach Central High in Wellington. On Friday, a 19-year-old man was killed, and two high school students were injured by what police called a targeted shooting outside of the football stadium at Raines High in Jacksonville.

• • •

97 Number of firearms found in carry-on bags at Tampa International Airport in 2017. That total led the state and was sixth in the nation. However, to use a boxing term, Tampa might still be considered the pound-for-pound champion, considering every airport on the list ahead of TIA handles at least twice as many travelers annually.

• • •

21 Republican candidates for state Legislature that received grades of A or A+ from the National Rifle Association last month. No Democrats got an A. On the other hand, 13 Democrats got an F. No Republicans received an F.

• • •

10.8 With nearly 2 million concealed weapons permits issued, Florida leads the nation. That total works out to roughly one out of every 10.8 residents. Dixie County leads the parade with one CWP for every 4.9 residents. Pinellas and Hillsborough are both around one out of 13.5, Pasco is at 11.0 and Hernando is 8.8.

Comments
Firefighters respond to blaze in Lakewood High School gymnasium

Firefighters respond to blaze in Lakewood High School gymnasium

St. Petersburg firefighters responded to fire early Monday morning in the gymnasium at Lakewood High School.Students arriving for classes by bus were being rerouted to a drop-off point at the west end of the school on 16th Street, according to a mess...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Hillsborough deputy fatally shoots wife, turns gun on himself with children in home

Hillsborough deputy fatally shoots wife, turns gun on himself with children in home

LAND O'LAKES -- A Hillsborough County deputy fatally shot his wife early Monday morning before turning the gun on himself in an apparent murder-suicide, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.In an early-morning news conference, Pasco County ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hillsborough asking why rescue captain stayed back as patient’s friends performed CPR

Hillsborough asking why rescue captain stayed back as patient’s friends performed CPR

TAMPA — It was almost 4 a.m. when the man’s friends found him unconscious in a Riverview home and called 911.His breath was shallow and he was turning blue. With the 911 call-taker giving instructions, his friends performed CPR and waited.Ten minutes...
Published: 09/24/18
Police in St. Petersburg searching for missing elderly man

Police in St. Petersburg searching for missing elderly man

Police in St. Petersburg are searching for a missing elderly man.Shortly after 5 p.m., Frederick Mein, 86, drove his silver Toyota Tacoma pickup truck from his home on the 1500 block of 78th Avenue N to his daughter’s house a couple of miles away. He...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Police: Car runs red light, killing woman on motor scooter in St. Petersburg

Police: Car runs red light, killing woman on motor scooter in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURGCar runs red light, killing woman on motor scooterA woman died after a driver ran a red light on 5th Avenue N and hit her motor scooter early Sunday morning, police reported.Vallis Ann Oswain, 58, was driving the scooter northbound on 8...
Published: 09/23/18
Police: Motorcyclist injured in Bayshore crash, southbound traffic diverted

Police: Motorcyclist injured in Bayshore crash, southbound traffic diverted

TAMPA — A motorcyclist suffered serious injuries in a crash on Bayshore Boulevard, police reported.About 3:10 p.m., the motorcyclist was driving southbound, according to the Tampa Police Department. At the same time, a driver in a Jeep Cherokee was h...
Published: 09/23/18
Stolen smokes: Florida man gets 20 years for cigarette theft

Stolen smokes: Florida man gets 20 years for cigarette theft

PENSACOLA, Fla. — A Florida man who stole $600 worth of cigarettes from a convenience store has been sentenced to 20 years in state prison.A jury in Pensacola convicted 48-year-old Robert Spellman of burglary and grand theft in August. Authori...
Published: 09/23/18
Deputies: Driver kills Brandon cyclist, 73, in hit-and-run

Deputies: Driver kills Brandon cyclist, 73, in hit-and-run

BRANDON — A cyclist died in what authorities said is a hit-and-run crash, according to the Hillsborough County Sherrif’s Office.John Dilgard, 73, was riding a mountain bike southbound on Kings Avenue S about 12:42 a.m., the agency reported.A vehicle ...
Published: 09/23/18
Vehicle crashes into Tampa Havoline Xpress Lube, sets building ablaze, fire officials report

Vehicle crashes into Tampa Havoline Xpress Lube, sets building ablaze, fire officials report

TAMPA — A vehicle crashed into a Havoline Xpress Lube early Saturday morning, sparking flames that engulfed the structure, fire officials reported.According to Tampa Fire Rescue, multiple people called 911 about 2:40 a.m, reporting the fire on the 50...
Published: 09/23/18
A Las Vegas professor shot himself on his campus to protest Trump, police say

A Las Vegas professor shot himself on his campus to protest Trump, police say

Before pulling the trigger, the professor was thoughtful.Mark J. Bird had been at the College of Southern Nevada for more than two decades in the department of human behavior. He had a feel for the rhythms of the school day, the timetables of when st...
Published: 09/23/18