California Forum

Feinstein proposes bump stock ban + NRA OKs talk about guns + ‘Calm’ before the storm

President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd as he hands out supplies to people suffering from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.
President Donald Trump tosses paper towels into a crowd as he hands out supplies to people suffering from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. AP

Welcome to Take Two, our sampler of opinion, drawn from The Sacramento Bee editorial board’s opinion-politics newsletter, The Take. Sign up at

Bump stocks

Any sense of equilibrium or inner calm disappeared when we woke Monday to read the news from Las Vegas. Soon, we learned the meaning of “bump stock,” devices that allowed Stephen Paddock to rain hell down on 22,000 concertgoers in Las Vegas, killing 58 and injuring more than 520. Sen. Dianne Feinstein responded to the American carnage with a proposal endorsed by Senate Democrats to ban bump stocks nationally. California already bans them. But in Washington, Republicans, looking to their patrons at the National Rifle Association, were saying it wasn’t time to talk about gun violence.

NRA speaks

On Thursday, the NRA essentially told its Republicans it was OK to talk, issuing a statement saying it’s open to reviewing an Obama administration ruling that federal law didn’t prohibit bump stocks. But there was a catch. In that same statement, the NRA repeated its call for reciprocity legislation, a euphemism for eviscerating states’ rights and their control over police powers. Essentially, the NRA wants to force states such as California with strict gun laws to honor permits to carry concealed weapons issued by states with lax laws. California members of Congress who care about the 10th Amendment should view the linkage as unacceptable. But that will depend on what the NRA says.

Paper towels

Andres Oppenheimer, The Miami Herald’s gem of a Latin American correspondent, is measured. But in a particularly biting column, Oppenheimer likened Trump to Hugo Chavez, this after our president visited Puerto Rico; said the number of hurricane-caused deaths, 34 and counting, wasn’t all that bad; and threw paper towels to people in need as if it were a game. If Trump were just a populist who got things done and loved to take the credit, that wouldn’t be a big deal, Oppenheimer wrote. But, like Chavez, he is an incompetent leader who brags about things that, in reality, are often fiascos. Trump placed himself at center stage and made it look as if he alone were giving aid to Puerto Rico. Imagine the reaction if Barack Obama had tossed paper towels as if he were shooting hoops.

Ben Shapiro

Speaking of inappropriate, the California Senate gave conservative personality Ben Shapiro short shrift at a hearing to delve into the rise of white supremacy. Whether you agree with his brash brand of politics or not, Shapiro has insights worth hearing. He has felt more than his share of ugly anti-Semitism for standing up against Trump and Trump’s adviser, Steve Bannon.

The ‘calm’

McClatchy D.C.’s Markos Kounalakis called out Trump for his schoolyard taunts aimed at “Rocket Man” Kim Jong Un. We expect such talk from Un, but “what’s unprecedented is the loud, public invective coming from the leader of the free world and commander-in-chief of the world’s greatest military force.” Later in the week, Trump summoned reporters to the White House, where he had dined with military leaders, and gave a reality show-like statement: “Could be the calm, the calm before the storm.” We’re not feeling calm, Mr. President. Nothing about you calms us.