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Union-Tribune Editorial: Vote For Politicians Who Support Sensible Gun Legislation

 August 6, 2019 at 10:27 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 The editorial in the San Diego Union Tribune following the shootings in El Paso and Dayton did not mince words. The editorial stated quote, if candidates won't support sensible gun legislation, don't vote for them. If sitting politicians don't support sensible gun legislation, vote them out. If the president won't decry white terrorism, elect one who will unquote. The editorial also says, enough is enough. But why such strong sentiments now when the nation has been through so many shootings and the response has been far more moderate. Joining me to answer that as Matt Hall editorial and Opinion Director at the San Diego Union Tribune and Matt, welcome to the program. Thanks for having me today. So why now? How have the shootings in El Paso, Dayton and even Gilroy tipped the balance into urgency for the ut editorial board? Speaker 2: 00:54 Yeah, well I think, uh, as you can see from the size and the design of today's editorial, a full page editorial, which is pretty rare for us, this is a moment where we needed to stand up and say important things. But I will emphasize it. We've said many of these things before. We've been pretty strong advocates for sensible gun legislation for years. And pretty famously, uh, on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine anniversary had another, uh, similarly unusual and powerful editorial where we used people's names and ages, people who had been killed in mass shootings on school campuses to spell out the word enough with, uh, those letters. And it was very powerful statement. It's something we've been advocating for a long time, but we wanted to, this seemed like a moment almost like post parkland where people were frustrated by what had happened and needed to do something and didn't think anything was going to happen. Congress wasn't going to do anything. And all of a sudden, those student activists, that Parkland really stood up and said, well, wait a second. This has gone on too long. There's been too much bloodshed. It's time to do something. Their voices mattered. And we thought that this was a moment where our voice could matter. Speaker 1: 02:08 What do you think is the responsibility of editorials to help shape public sentiment about an issue like this? Speaker 2: 02:14 One of the approaches that I've taken with our a editorial board is to foster conversation, not necessarily to end it, right? I mean, I think too often editorial boards are like, it's our way or the highway. Our editorial board under me has been, I think more receptive to other views. We've printed other people's perspectives on our op-eds section and our letters section. But we've also had strong opinions and our editorials and you know, our opinions have changed over the years on gun legislation though we think as we reiterated today that a so-called assault weapons ban is smart limiting magazine capacity is smart and certainly standing up and calling out racism, uh, is essential. That's, I think what has shifted in this conversation and what you're seeing emerge, especially from the El Paso shooting, is that was the biggest murder of, uh, Hispanics. Uh, in this country. Someone walked into what is essentially billed as the UN of Walmarts with a, a weapon of mass destruction and killed, uh, Latinos killed six Mexican nationals simply because, uh, of their skin color. And that is unacceptable. That is not a the America that any of us should want to live in. Speaker 1: 03:36 Speaking of the kind of conversation that you're hoping to engender with the, this editorial, what kind of response have you gotten? Speaker 2: 03:43 A lot of people are saying, thanks for saying what I was thinking. Thanks for saying what we all, most of us, many of us are thinking, um, you know, I think one of the things that an editorial board has that, that normal citizens don't is a platform. We can call this out. And I think this is a moment where we need to say racism is unacceptable and we need to make that loud and clear. Speaker 1: 04:06 What about people who don't want restrictions on responsible gun ownership? Speaker 2: 04:10 It's all in framing and it's all in the argument, right? Responsible means maybe there's some common ground where both sides can agree. As we've seen and as we've shared our frustrations over the years, there hasn't been a lot of progress made. Uh, Dianne Feinstein's assault weapons ban for example, was in play for 10 years and then lapsed. And uh, now she and others want to try to bring it back. But it's difficult because you know, the second amendment is the second amendment for a reason and people use it, um, and hold it up as something that should not be taken away and it shouldn't be taken away. That's why when we say sensible and responsible gun legislation, that's what we mean. It's a nod to the fact that the second amendment exists, but it's also a nod to the fact that you know, you don't need a weapon that can kill nine people and wound dozens of others in a single minute as it happened has happened in, in Dayton. Speaker 1: 05:05 Now the editorial doubts, the president's sincerity, when he said yesterday, hate has no place in our country. Why don't you believe him? Speaker 2: 05:14 It's one thing for the president to give a speech like that. I think if he had done that without the words that he had used, uh, over the last three or four years without a career that you can trace on paper and through his comments, that would be one thing. But we have here a president who has used 2100 times the word invasion in Facebook ads. This campaign alone to describe a immigration. Now the immigrants that I know that are not invaders, they're coming to this country because they want a better life because they see a chance to grab something. Um, and, and to pursue a dream. And that is not an invasion any stretch. So by the president's own words and history of language, what he said yesterday, you know, you Americans should take that with a, with a big, big grain of salt because it's too late. Uh, and I think the, the weight of his words really hangs around him. Uh, at this point, Speaker 1: 06:16 you must have to consider an awful lot of different things when you're sitting down to write an editorial like this. And one of the things that occurred to us is that researchers have found that people get led into radical beliefs because they begin to distrust mainstream media. That's one of the things they've found. So an editorial like this may actually alienating the people who need it the most. Is that something that concerns you? Speaker 2: 06:42 Yeah, that's an interesting point. And, you know, I, I, uh, assume the reigns a of this position during the 2016 election and people who follow me on Facebook, it can show, can tell you stories of the, of the, uh, interesting, uh, letters to the editor I got where people would cut out the editorials and take out their sharpies and write things that are probably can't be said on this radio program. Um, you know, we want to reach those people. But I think part of this editorial was saying that all of us need to stand up. That it's not enough to be silent, especially if you are in politics and especially if you are in Washington d c at this moment, we need a collective voice. We need to push back against this because what happened in El Paso is horrific. Uh, and I hope it doesn't happen again in other cities. Speaker 1: 07:33 I've been speaking with Matt Hall, editorial and Opinion Director at the San Diego Union Tribune. Matt, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thank you.

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The editorial in The San Diego Union-Tribune following the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio did not mince words.
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