Today, arguably more than ever, Americans understand that gun violence is a public health epidemic killing innocent people, just the way a virus does.
This threat demands an urgent national response. Congress, start by assembling public health experts into a Manhattan Project-style effort to pinpoint the best ways to curtail this epidemic. Why isn't there more research into possible solutions? One reason, The Atlantic reports, is a 1996 Congressional amendment that barred the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using money to "advocate or promote gun control." The amendment, sponsored by the late GOP Rep. Jay Dickey of Arkansas, has exerted a chilling effect for decades.
Six years ago, Dickey, by then retired from Congress, co-authored a Washington Post op-ed that revealed a change of heart. The U.S. government was spending $240 million a year on traffic safety research but almost nothing on firearms safety research, the authors wrote: "Most politicians fear talking about guns almost as much as they would being confronted by one, but these fears are senseless. We must learn what we can do to save lives. It is like the answer to the question 'When is the best time to plant a tree?' The best time to start was 20 years ago; the second-best time is now."
That "now" was in 2012. Nothing happened. How about this now?
Illinois state senators last month decided 37-13 that they should ask Illinois voters in November whether recreational marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed.
If they really cared about our opinions, there are much better questions. They could ask about term limits, independent legislative district mapping, a balanced state budget, pension reform or government consolidation.
Not only don't they care about those answers, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan went to great lengths to prevent the independent map referendum from making it onto the ballot.
Remember, a lot of politicians are lawyers. They know you never ask a question in court, or in the court of public opinion, to which you don't already know the answer.
The Quincy Herald-Whig
We strongly urge the governor and state agencies to give careful consideration to a feasible, transitional option that would address many of the stated safety concerns at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy and achieve that short-term objective.
It would require the state to buy — or rent — the vacant Sycamore Healthcare Center facility just two blocks from the Veterans Home grounds and temporarily move the 75 residents now living in Elmore Infirmary — where most of the Legionnaires' cases have been traced — there until Elmore can be renovated or replaced.
Allowing politics to dictate these important decisions would be a disservice to our military veterans, their families and the dedicated staff serving them in Quincy.