Making noise — and a splash — on guns

For a newspaper opinion page, it’s the closest thing there is to shouting something from the rooftops. Today’s Boston Globe — both online and in print — leads with a large-type three-word call: “MAKE IT STOP.”

The “it” is the carnage of mass shootings in this country, as the paper calls for a national ban on assault weapons as a sensible form of gun control that might at least lessen the odds of more such events and lower the body count should they occur.

In April, the Globe made a splash with a faux front page on front of the Sunday opinion section that reported on life under a Trump presidency.  (It wasn’t a pretty picture.) “The opinion section of the Boston Globe is turning heads today,” reported National Public Radio, confirming the success of what was clearly the paper’s goal.

Today’s editorial, sitting atop the Boston Globe home page and consisting of a full four pages wrapped around the outside of the print edition, takes the idea of full-throated editorializing to a new level. Though there is plenty of good material in the editorial package to chew over — documenting the toll assault weapons have taken, calling out six US senators who could make a difference on the issue, and more — as with the Trump front-page, it’s more the form in which the statement is delivered than its content that is designed to turn heads.

Whether it changes any dynamics of the debate is another matter. Members of the state’s congressional delegation vent to the Globe’s Michael Levenson that their efforts to get the House to consider any gun restrictions seem destined to go nowhere in the Republican-controlled chamber.

Meanwhile, form more than content was also at play yesterday in the US Senate chamber, where Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy waged a 15-hour filibuster on the gun control issue.

As the New York Times points out, all Murphy was seeking was a commitment to allow a vote on two gun-control amendments to an annual appropriations bill. Though the Republican leadership in that chamber has steadfastly opposed gun restrictions, the Times says Murphy would have almost certainly been able to get a vote on his amendments even without the filibuster. But his marathon speechifying had the issue rocketing around on social media in a way it otherwise would not have.

Similarly, writes Dan Kennedy, the main Globe Twitter account and the opinion page account are tweeting out today’s editorial with the hashtag #makeitstop as part of an effort to get the issue front and center on social media. As for the well-crafted editorial package itself, however, Kennedy says of such efforts, “even when they’re effective at making their case, they’re ineffective in changing anyone’s minds.”

Maybe an editorial doesn’t change minds, but sometimes the events that prompted it can.

New polling in the wake of the Orlando massacre shows a strong uptick in national support for an assault weapons ban, with 57 percent of Americans now backing such a move. That, of course, does not mean Congress will necessarily do a thing about it.

Meanwhile, Murphy’s amendments in Senate have to do with expanded background checks and with banning guns sales to those who have been a government terrorist watch list. On the latter issue, even presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump seems to be softening, saying those on watch lists should not be able to buy guns and announcing that he plans to meet with leaders of the National Rifle Association on the issue.

Breath holding not advisable.

–MICHAEL JONAS

 

BEACON HILL

There are lots of big legislation pending and very little time left before the Legislature adjourns for the year, which could make for some testy times, especially with tension already in the air between the House and Senate. (Boston Globe)

House Speaker Robert DeLeo notes the Senate budget has three times as many policy riders as the House version and suggests those policy disputes may hinder passage of a fiscal 2017 budget. (State House News)

The House passes legislation updating municipal laws. (Masslive)

A new report by Pioneer Institute calls for reforming solitary confinement practices in the state’s prisons and jails and proposes the Department of Mental Health assume oversight of Bridgewater State Hospital. (State House News Service)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Lowell Board of Health bans cigarette sales to anyone under 21. (The Sun)

Framingham’s chief financial officer has recommended using savings from last year to try to keep the increase for the average water and sewer customer to $100. (MetroWest Daily News)

CASINOS

Plainridge Park Casino revenue holds steady in May. (Masslive)

ELECTIONS

There are young Hillary Clinton supporters, after all. (Boston Globe)

Massachusetts isn’t alone. Uncontested legislative races are becoming more common across the country. (Governing)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

A state task force has made a series of recommendations to revitalize the cranberry industry in Massachusetts, which now trails Wisconsin and Quebec, including renewable energy and water conservation options and more funding to renovate bogs for more efficiency and higher yield. (State House News Service)

The IRS has made a flood of information on nonprofits available to the public by opening up electronically filed 990s, which are more easily searchable and printable than PDFs. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)

EDUCATION

State Education Secretary James Peyser calls for an overhaul of teacher certification, saying too much emphasis is being placed on course-taking and degrees and not enough on in-class training. (CommonWealth)

A majority of faculty at Cape Cod Community College have signed a petition for a vote of no confidence in the school’s president over what the professors say is an atmosphere of sexual harassment, bullying, and threats. (Cape Cod Times)

TRANSPORTATION

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation is urging the MBTA to spend more money on managers, who are underpaid compared to their counterparts at other transit agencies around the country. (Boston Business Journal) A report from the organization suggests the T may need to spend more than $7.3 billion already pegged as the cost of bringing the system up to a state of good repair. (Boston Globe)

State transportation officials have not ruled out a third bridge over the Cape Cod Canal but it is no longer a priority as the focus shifts to what to do about the aging and “functionally obsolete” Bourne and Sagamore bridges. (Cape Cod Times)

Shannon Liss-Riordan, the Boston employment lawyer who led a suit that resulted in an $84 million settlement for Uber drivers with the company, says she’s willing to cut her fee in half (though her firm would still get a fairly cool $11 million). (Boston Globe)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Hydro-Quebec officials sound very confident about the Northern Pass transmission line winning approval in New Hampshire, saying the hydroelectric project offers Massachusetts the “complete solution.” (CommonWealth)

ExxonMobil calls a subpoena from Attorney General Maura Healey seeking millions of documents on climate change a “governmental abuse of power.” (Boston Herald)

A Lowell Sun editorial questions the cost of the energy diversity being pushed in the offshore wind and hydroelectricity bill moving through the Legislature. Meanwhile, Peter Rothstein of the Northeast Clean Energy Council and Daniel Sosland of the Acadia Center say the energy legislation needs to be scaled up.

The Supreme Judicial Court decision in Kain v. DEP is raising all sorts of questions about state compliance with laws limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Former utility executive and state energy official Ron Gerwatowski tries to sort it out. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Debbie DiMasi, wife of imprisoned former speaker Sal DiMasi, and former federal judge Nancy Gertner say the Federal Bureau of Prisons is a lawless agency after its most recent denial of compassionate release for the cancer-stricken politician because he can “dress and feed himself.” (Greater Boston)

A former probation officer in Dorchester District Court who was set to be arraigned on charges he raped a women he supervised was killed in a crash in Randolph when the car he was driving slammed into a bridge abutment (Associated Press)

The T police pension fund finally coughs up some information on retiree payouts. (Boston Herald)

MEDIA

The Atlantic offers an interesting take on the trend in advertising. In short, digital is eating legacy media, mobile is eating digital, and two companies, Facebook and Google, are eating mobile.