Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Tag: gun control


2013 Legislature must deal with mental illness

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

People with untreated mental illnesses don’t fund political campaigns or employ powerful lobbyists. It was easy for Washington and other states to skimp on their care after the economy went south five years ago.

It’s taken a whack with a two-by-four – an onslaught of preventable assaults and murders – to persuade some lawmakers that psychiatric care for the poor is not a luxury that can be dropped in hard times.

The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was the catalyst. The killer may or may not have suffered from a psychosis, but – following other atrocities in Colorado and elsewhere – he taught the country how dangerous a disturbed man with a deadly weapon can be.

Three priorities need action from Legislature this year: care, involuntary commitment and access to guns. The three are closely interconnected.

Above all, the state must provide more therapy options to more people. People with serious psychiatric disorders tend to be poor, for obvious reasons. Few can afford the intensive treatment and continuing care they need.

Mental illness should not be equated with threat. The vast majority of those who live with some kind of disorder are harmless. But a small fraction – notably males with schizophrenia, a history of drug abuse and a record of violence – account for more than their share of attacks on others. They are especially prominent in mass shootings.

Lawmakers can lower that threat through simple humanity, by making psychiatric care more accessible to everyone who needs it but can’t pay for it. That means expanded outpatient therapy and case management, and it may mean restoring beds at Western State and Eastern State hospitals.
Read more »


To prevent gun violence, pick battles carefully

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Vice President Joe Biden, noted for his bloopers, made a cogent and critical point Wednesday about upcoming congressional battle over gun restrictions.

“We’re going to need voices in those areas, in those congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong, to speak up and to say this is important. It can’t just be the usual suspects.”

“The usual suspects” presumably means the liberal, urban folks – often Easterners – who have dominated gun control advocacy over the years with a spectacular lack of success. Many are hostile to guns in general and can’t comprehend why anyone would own one.

Biden didn’t go quite this far, but we will: The success of gun legislation will largely depend on the support of people who lawfully own and enjoy firearms, but don’t share the absolutism of National Rifle Association leaders and other hard-liners.

Those gun owners will buy aggressive new measures to keep firearms out of the hands of the wrong people. But any attempt to criminalize their own weapons will trigger a ferocious political backlash.

This argues against attempts to categorically ban “assault weapons.” Such legislation is likely to fail – and could take more important measures down with it.

It is notoriously difficult to define what an assault weapon is. Even the AR-style rifle used in the Sandy Hook massacre was nothing special mechanically. Remove its black, collapsible stock, pistol grip and extended magazine, replace them with a brown wooden stock and smaller magazine, and it would look and act like an ordinary hunting rifle of modest power.

Millions of law-abiding people, many of them veterans, simply like the military-style accessories. So be it. Some quarrels are worth spending political capital on. This isn’t one of them.
Read more »


What happened to the C-word? (as in gun control)

The search term “gun reform” now gets nearly a half-million hits on Google. (I’m sure it’s been around, but I don’t recall hearing it until after the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre a few weeks ago.)

Example: Greg Sargent in the Washington Post:

Another term on the rise is “gun safety.” Keyword “gun safety” and “connecticut” to get more than a half-million hits, many of them post post-Sandy Hook.

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, talk about “solutions for gun violence,” “responsible changes in our laws,” “common-sense solutions” and “reforms to reduce gun violence” in their USA Today oped.
Read more »


“A media-elite exemption” to gun laws?

From the Washington Post:

David Gregory’s stunt worked!
By Erik Wemple, Updated: January 11, 2013

NBC News and David Gregory are in the clear: District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan has declared that he will not proceed with prosecution of the “Meet the Press” host for brandishing a 30-round gun magazine on the Dec. 23 edition of the program. Magazines exceeding a capacity of 10 rounds are illegal in the District.

A telling portion of Nathan’s letter on the Gregory issue scolds NBC News for a “feeble and unsatisfactory” effort at determining whether showing the high-capacity clip on air would comply with D.C. laws.

Reports have circulated that NBC News got conflicting information on the legality, another consideration referenced in Nathan’s letter: “Although there appears to have been some misinformation provided initially, NBC was clearly and timely advised by an MPD employee that its plans to exhibit on the broadcast a high capacity-magazine would violate D.C. law, and there was no contrary advice
from any federal official.”

More on this very angle from Nathan to the lawyer representing NBC News and Gregory: “While you argue that some NBC employees subjectively felt uncertain as to whether its planned actions were lawful or not, we do not believe such uncertainty was justified and we note that NBC has now acknowledged that its interpretation of the information it received was incorrect.”

“Meet the Press” hasn’t spoken about the matter in detail. It merely released a statement saying, “We displayed the empty magazine solely for journalistic purposes to help illustrate an important issue for our viewers. We accept the District of Columbia Attorney General’s admonishment, respect his decision and will have no further comment on this matter.”
Read more »


Not so young, not so many – until Friday

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Sandy Hook is the worst.

It exceeds in horror even the rampage at Virginia Tech in 2007, which had a higher body count: 32, mostly college students. There’s something far more appalling about the slaughter of small children – 20 in this case –  who have no way to defend themselves, no idea of what is happening and no capacity to plan an escape.

The United States has suffered a crescendo of mass shootings in recent years – even as the nation’s overall murder rate has been falling.

It’s gotten so only spectacular bloodbaths – such as the 1999 killings at Columbine High School and July’s shooting spree at a theater in Aurora, Colo. – make much of an impression on the national consciousness. Lesser outbreaks of multiple murder, like Tuesday’s shootings at a Portland mall, might once have been shocking; now they are almost background noise.
Read more »


Guns & gun control: First get the facts straight

A problem with some gun control advocates is that they discredit themselves the moment they open their mouths. As we say in the trade, you’re entitled to your own opinions, but you don’t get to make up your own facts.

Roger Lowenstein here at least doesn’t confuse semi-automatic guns with automatic guns, a common self-discrediting mistake. But he wants even semi-automatic guns “banned, for good,” apparently believing they aren’t legitimate hunting weapons.

That would come as a surprise to virtually every hunter in the world.

His discussion of the Constitution and the Second Amendment completely ignores the Supreme Court’s contrary rulings on the matter. When the high court majority has pointedly rejected your legal views, you should at least acknowledge that they are not beyond dispute.

“Its doubtful the framers envisioned people possessing private weapons or taking weapons to their individual homes, as that would have detracted from a militia’s effectiveness.” Three whopping blunders in a single sentence – possibly a record for the English language.
Read more »


What we know about Jared Loughner: Not much

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Sometimes a deranged gunman is just a deranged gunman.

At this point, no one has a clue as to why a 22-year-old misfit with a Glock opened fire on U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and a crowd of others in Tucson, killing six and nearly killing her.

We won’t have a clue until Jared Lee Loughner himself starts talking, and maybe not even then, given the odd workings of his disordered mind.

Was he triggered by the general “vitriol” in the air? Arizona’s bitter disputes over illegal immigration? The fact that Sarah Palin talked about reloading instead of retreating and once drew a cross-hairs on Giffords’ district during the last election?

Not a shred of evidence for any of that so far. You’d think the chattering classes would observe a decent interval after Saturday’s massacre
before turning it into political ammunition.
Read more »


The Brady Campaign vs. Rossi: Who’s got the gun politics right?

Here’s an interesting take from the other side of the continent on Washington’s attitude toward guns. I personally don’t see much evidence that most Washingtonians are anxious to restrict firearms. If so, our laws don’t reflect the fact. “Assault rifle” bans go nowhere, even when Democrats own the Legislature.

The claim that Rossi would “allow the carrying of loaded, concealed handguns in Washington state by people legally barred from possessing guns in Washington, if they are able to carry elsewhere” is mystifying.

I don’t know of any other state with a more liberal policy on concealed weapons than Washington. Our law requires that applicants be issued concealed-carry permits if they are 21 years old and pass a background check. If there’s a state that lets people carry concealed firearms after flunking background checks, I want to know about it so I can avoid the place.


Washington, D.C. – Dino Rossi, the Republican candidate for the United States Senate from Washington has taken stands on gun violence prevention that are outside the mainstream of Washington voters by aligning himself with extreme gun views.

Like Tea Party candidates for federal office, such as Sharon Angle in Nevada, who suggests “Second Amendment solutions” to our nation’s problems, and Joe Miller in Alaska who thinks residents ought to be able to loaded carry guns in Wal-Mart, Rossi wants more guns in more places for more people. He even favors weakening the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), our nation’s top law enforcement agency on guns.
Read more »