Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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Feb. 23

The Sun Herald of Biloxi on politically active youth:

Our children are sending a clear message: Do something.

Put party politics aside. Listen. And come up with a plan to end school shootings.

Lead or step aside and let someone else lead the discussion. The discussion that is long overdue.

We failed our children after Columbine. And again after Sandy Hook.

The aftermath of the massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School has been different. The nation's young people have found their voice. In their mourning, they have found inspiration. They have learned the best way to honor the friends who were gunned down is to do everything in their power to prevent it from happening again.

They are not making any unreasonable demands. They are not talking about banning all guns. They are talking about limiting access to certain high-powered guns and high-capacity magazines. Killing machines.

America should listen.

They are a generation accustomed to active shooter drills. To lockdowns. And all the whys. Why did they survive when their friends died? Why can't the adults keep their schools safe? Why won't they put partisan bickering aside and listen to their children as least much as they listen to the gun lobby?

These are our children. They deserve better.

If any good comes of these horrendous acts, it will because of this generation of children who came together and saw that together they could make a positive change.

They should be our inspiration. They should not be the subject of adult disdain and wild conspiracy theories.

Their parents should be thanked for standing with their children and giving them the courage to look their leaders in the eye and unflinchingly tell the truth.

Our elected leaders should have such courage. So far, they have shown all the resolve of a flag in stiff breeze. If they don't get this job done, and can't stand up to the NRA, then the solid majority of Americans who favor action should vote them out.

There is another discussion the adults need to have, a discussion with their children. Too many children on the Coast and across Mississippi are posting threats to schools via social media. Every parent should calmly remind their children of the harsh consequences of such ill-advised behavior.

These threats cannot be brushed away as if they are pranks. There is no joke there. There is nothing funny about it.

There is, however, a danger that if those threats proliferate, they may no longer be taken seriously.

We cannot let that happen.

Online: http://www.sunherald.com/

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Feb. 23

Commercial Appeal on the Second Amendment:

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution declares the need for a "well-regulated militia." It also guarantees "the right of the people to keep and bear arms."

Does that mean citizens of each state have the right to form well-regulated and armed militias? Or does that mean individual American citizens have a right to bear arms?

Generations of lawyers, judges and politicians have disagreed about that. So has the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1939, in a case involving sawed-off shotguns, the court ruled unanimously that the Second Amendment's "obvious purpose" was to "assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of" the state militia. Therefore, the court "cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees to the citizen the right to keep and bear such a weapon."

In 2008, however, in a case involving handguns, the court ruled 5-4 that "self-defense is a basic right" and the Second Amendment "protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."

If the framers didn't intend to grant each citizen the right to bear a sawed-off shotgun, let's assume they also didn't intend to grant each citizen the right to bear "dangerous" military-style assault rifles capable of slaughtering dozens of school children or churchgoers in a few minutes.

In fact, in its 2008 ruling, the court said, "It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."

The 2008 ruling also said, "the Court's opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on ... the historical tradition of prohibiting (as in the 1939 court ruling) the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons."

Someone tell the NRA and their well-funded but misguided Republican foot soldiers in Congress and state legislatures across the country.

In 2012, after 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, were gunned down by a man bearing a legally-obtained military-style assault rifle, Congress considered bills to mandate background checks for private sales at gun shows and to ban assault weapons and large capacity magazines.

The NRA opposed the bills. The Republican-led Congress rejected them.

In 2015, after nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, were gunned down by a young man with pending felony charges who was bearing a legally-obtained semiautomatic pistol, Congress considered a bill to close the loophole that allowed the young man to obtain the gun without a background check that would have denied him the gun.

The NRA opposed the bill. The Republican-led Congress never brought it up for a vote.

In 2016, after 49 people were gunned down at an Orlando night club by a man who had twice been on the terrorist watch list and who was bearing a legally-purchased military-style assault rifle, Congress considered a bill to prevent or delay individuals on the terrorist watch list from purchasing firearms and a bill requiring universal background checks.

The NRA opposed the bills. The Republican-led Congress defeated them.

Last year, after 58 concertgoers were gunned down in Las Vegas by a man bearing legally-purchased military-style assault rifles converted to automatic weapons with legally-purchased bump stocks; after 26 churchgoers were gunned down in Texas by a man convicted of domestic violence bearing a legally-purchased military-style assault rifle, Congress considered bills banning bump stocks and expanding background checks.

The NRA opposed both bills. Congress failed to act on either bill.

This week, President Trump ordered his Justice Department to ban bump stocks and he said he favors expanded background checks.

It's a start.

Congress banned military-style assault rifles and large-capacity magazines from 1994-2004. It can and must do so again.

Our "well-regulated" Second Amendment right to "individual self-defense" against people bearing "dangerous and unusual weapons" should not be infringed.

Online: https://www.commercialappeal.com

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Feb. 25

The Greenwood Commonwealth on taxing cigarettes:

Mississippi's Republican lawmakers have been overly reluctant to raise any tax, including something as sensible as the fuel tax to repair the state's roads and bridges.

One product, however, that may melt this resolve is cigarettes. There is serious consideration this session, with backing from some key GOP committee chairmen, to significantly up the tax on the cancer-causing product. One proposal would more than triple the current 68 cents per pack to $2.18.

It would shock us if the Republican majorities went along with the idea of a hike, but upping the tax substantially makes sense on two fronts; It would generate immediate revenue while reducing future costs of treating smoking-relating illnesses.

It's been widely documented that the best way to deter young people from starting the life-shortening habit is to make it expensive. The higher the cost, the fewer who get hooked.

Online: http://www.gwcommonwealth.com