Our View: Florida tragedy renews gun debte


Rocky Mount Telegram

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The discussion about stricter gun control measures certainly has intensified since the school shooting that killed 17 students and educators on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Fla.

But congressional leaders have so far demonstrated no intent to take action on any of a series of simple, common-sense reforms that enjoy broad public support, several of which President Donald Trump endorsed last week during a meeting with members of Congress — much to the chagrin of many of his fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The president has directed the U.S. Justice Department to find a regulatory method to ban the sale of bump stocks and has called for comprehensive legislation to expand background checks, raise the minimum age to purchase assault weapons, increase school security and expand mental health services. He also chastised lawmakers for being too afraid of the NRA to take effective action.

But despite the many gun control bills that have been introduced in Congress, neither U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., or U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., have announced any plans for their chambers to take action on any comprehensive gun control legislation.

The nation’s business community, however, has not hesitated to act.

Several major retailers — including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, Kroger and L.L. Bean — have announced plans to stop selling assault rifles and restrict sales of guns and ammunition to people over the age of 21. A myriad of companies — such as Hertz and Delta Air Lines — have cancelled discount plans for members of the NRA.

Delta’s announcement prompted state lawmakers in Georgia, where the company is headquartered, to vote down a tax break on jet fuel worth an estimated $38 million to the airline.

The president’s recent pronouncements and the actions taken by business leaders reflect the broad public support for enacting pragmatic gun control measures such as expanding background checks to include online and gun show sales, banning people on no-fly lists from purchasing firearms and raising the minimum age for gun purchases.

And the continued inaction of congressional leaders and the measure enacted by the Georgia legislature are solid examples of the obstacles such reforms continue to face.