Inside Opinion

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

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Tag: guns


If lawmakers duck background checks, voters must act

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

There’s a reason lawmaking is often compared with making sausage: It isn’t always a pretty sight when legislators wrangle, compromise, horse trade and even yell at each other.

Still, compared with the initiative process, that’s generally the better way of getting things done; it more often results in laws that have been vetted for practicality as well as their chances of withstanding judicial review.

But when lawmakers fail to act on an issue of concern for significant numbers of their constituents — and especially when they’re intimidated by a powerful special interest — then it’s up to the people to act. In past years, for instance, lawmakers wouldn’t buck Big Tobacco in order to enact a statewide public smoking ban. So the people acted, passing an initiative by a wide margin to prohibit smoking in public places. Read more »


In FWay, four more victims of American gun violence

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Sunday’s slaughter in Federal Way is not only closer to home than the shooting of Newtown, it’s closer to what gun violence in the United States typically looks like.

Five wound up dead, including the perpetrator of the four other fatal shootings.

He had no grandiose political or religious agenda. There was no blather about avenging drone attacks, federal tyranny or mistreatment of Palestinians. The Federal Way homicides appear to have started with a simple, fatal act of domestic violence: The killer shot his girlfriend. He then may have shot the three others to get rid of witnesses.

To all appearances, it was a squalid little dispute that escalated into a massacre because an enraged man had a handgun and shotgun close at hand.

Handguns – not military-style rifles – are weapons of choice for American criminals. They’re used in the overwhelming majority of fatal shootings.

Even mass-killers prefer them by a wide margin, according to a recently released study commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a firearms-control group.

Adam Lanza, James Holmes and other deranged killers may seek out the kind of weapons fetishized in video games and movies, but a Maurice Clemmons – who used a pistol to gun down four Lakewood officers in 2009 – is the more typical multiple shooter.

Domestic violence is sometimes behind mass killings, as was apparently the case in Federal Way. Girlfriends, wives – estranged or current – are the primary targets. A Kentucky man shot his wife, stepdaughter and three neighbors in 2010. The reported provocation: He didn’t like the way his wife cooked his eggs.
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NRA strategy: Squelch free speech and scientific research

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Hypocrisy, thy name is NRA.

The National Rifle Association fiercely defends the Second Amendment rights of some people – in part by trying to quash the First Amendment rights of others.

It’s one way the organization has worked to prevent information on guns from getting out – information badly needed in efforts to curb the nation’s epidemic of gun violence.

An example: In 2011, the NRA actually got encoded in Florida law a gag order barring doctors from talking to their patients about guns in the home. Not only did this infringe on medical providers’ freedom of speech, it interfered with the doctor-patient relationship. (The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors counsel patients on firearm-injury prevention.) Read more »


Paranoia is sole argument against background checks

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

We’re trying real hard to think of reasons why private sales of firearms shouldn’t involve FBI background checks, and we’re coming up short.
Measures requiring background checks on all gun purchasers ought to be sailing through Congress. The vast majority of Americans – including most gun owners – support universal checks. Only absolutists who see jackbooted gun-grabbers in every shadow are fighting these proposals.

In Olympia, things are moving. Last week, state Rep. Jamie Pederson and 35 co-sponsors introduced a universal screening bill in the state House of Representatives.

It’s very simple. Licensed gun dealers are already required to run the names of would-be buyers through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Nondealers who want to sell their guns would have to do the same for their buyers, using either the system of a dealer or the local police.

The cost could not exceed $20, plus any FBI charges. That’s a reasonable price for buyers who bypass licensed dealers – especially since dealers must incur costs for the background checks they are required to run.
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An Eisenhower asks the NRA: ‘Have you no sense of decency, sirs?’

This op-ed came in Friday from The Washington Post. We don’t have room to get it into the print edition, so it’s running online only.

In it, Dwight Eisenhower’s granddaughter Susan comments on the NRA’s ad “suggesting that the president is an ‘elitist hypocrite’ because his children have the benefit of armed protection at school and the nation’s children as a whole do not.”
Needless to say, she thinks the NRA is off target. Here’s the article. Read more »


Award for most jaw-dropping TV segue goes to ABC

It’s awards season, so I’d like to give out a trophy of my own – to ABC for absolutely the most jaw-dropping, tasteless juxtaposition of ads.

Since I’m a Click Network customer, I had DVRed one of the ABC shows that airs Tuesday night. Last night, I was watching the show and, because DVR mode for ABC doesn’t allow fast-forwarding through the ads, I had to watch them.

First was an ad for the new Sylvester Stallone movie, the hyper-violent “A Bullet to the Head,” complete with lots of people getting shot. The ad was immediately followed by a promo

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A targeted – not shotgun – approach to gun reforms

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Sensible restrictions on firearms won’t happen if absolutists – whether pro- or anti-gun – hijack the debate. Someone like Gabrielle Giffords might be what the cause needs.

The former congresswoman and her husband, Mark Kelly, announced a campaign Tuesday to balance the political influence of National Rifle Association, whose current leadership dogmatically opposes almost any measure that threatens the interests of gun manufacturers.

Giffords brings two crucial credentials to this argument: She’s a gun-owning supporter of the Second Amendment – and a survivor of a nearly fatal shooting. They noted Tuesday that they have two guns – locked safely at home – and say they aren’t interested in taking firearms away from responsible gun owners. Read more »


One teacher’s take on arming educators

Arming teachers? Andrew Milton, who teaches eighth-grade English teacher at Pioneer Middle School in DuPont, doesn’t like the idea:

Rep. Liz Pike from Camas has expressed her intent to offer a bill that would allow teachers carry concealed weapons in the classroom. In general, such a law is a bad idea because it’s such a knee-jerk reaction to the recent school shooting, and, as is often the case, the knee-jerk overrides wisdom.

No gun violence has ever occurred without a gun present. Introducing more guns (even if legally so) raises the prospect of gun activity. And it’s way too easy to imagine scenarios where a legally introduced gun ends up creating difficulties where an absence of guns would have created no such difficulty.

For instance, one likes to imagine that an adult with a gun could have made a very different at Sandy Hook. But that situation is a real outlier. According to, in the last 20 years there have been 386 shooting events at schools (and universities) in the US. This includes interpersonal disputes that happened to play out at a school, accidental shootings, suicides at school, shootings near schools and events without fatalities. Suicides are more frequent than Sandy Hooks and Columbines. (The web site even lists as an episode a prematurely born baby dying at a hospital near a school–no gun even mentioned. In other words, the number 386 is counting episodes very different from Sandy Hook.)

The tragedy of Sandy Hook notwithstanding, the day to day reality of school is much more complicated. And day to day, the presence of guns creates risks that wouldn’t be there without guns.
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