After a teen gunman massacred 17 people at a Florida high school on Feb. 14, the Trump administration set up the Federal Commission on School Safety. It was an appropriate response to a deeply concerning issue: the increasing number of terrifying shootings at schools across America.
Unfortunately — and incredibly — the commission established because of horrific gun violence doesn’t consider gun violence a relevant issue. The Los Angeles Times reported this month that during “more than 20 hours of testimony in five panels, three field visits and two public listening sessions so far, commission officials have largely avoided, limited or … suppressed discussion of gun-control measures.”
One official directly told Western New Mexico University Prof. Jennifer Johnston, an authority on media coverage of mass shootings, that part of her proposed testimony calling for tougher laws limiting the sale of semiautomatic and automatic weapons was unacceptable.
This is depressing and, frankly, asinine. If a gun-rights advocate and a gun-control supporter ignore one another in everyday conversation, that’s disheartening but almost expected these days. It’s another thing entirely when a federal commission disregards different views — especially from people with relevant knowledge and experience.
The Times noted that this squelching of dissenters went beyond bullying invited experts. Seven speakers at a June 6 commission hearing, including at least one passionate advocate of tougher gun laws, were omitted from the official transcript of the event.
Commissions are supposed to gather information from all sides, then draw conclusions. This panel started with its conclusions already in place. That isn’t how democracy is supposed to work.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE