In Our View: Cheer & Jeers

Opponents find some middle ground on gun control; county fumbles on fireworks

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Cheers: It certainly won’t end or even alter the debate over gun control, but advocates on opposite sides of the issue managed to find some middle ground this week. Gun-control supporters held a rally at Esther Short Park, and open-carry supporters showed up to make sure their views were represented.

While these groups have vastly differing opinions on many facets of the gun debate, they agree on the need for responsible gun ownership and gun safety in the home. Heidi Yewman, with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, encouraged parents to find out whether guns are present in homes their children visit. “There is only one way to know — by asking. There are no signs on the front door,” and open-carry advocates echoed that sentiment. Whether or not you own guns, it is important to teach children what to do when they encounter one.

Jeers: Clark County Commissioner Tom Mielke was right about one thing: “We dropped the ball on this one.” Commissioners have let a deadline pass for altering the 2015 rules governing the sale and use of fireworks in unincorporated portions of the county.

Last November, voters told commissioners through a nonbinding advisory vote that they wanted to limit the dates that fireworks could be used. Commissioners hemmed and hawed and took their time acting upon the will of the people, and now the deadline has passed. The earliest there could be a fireworks ordinance in place would be the Fourth of July in 2016. Mielke blamed the situation, in part, on the departure of a county employee who specialized in fireworks. Whatever the reason, commissioners did, indeed, drop the ball.

Cheers: Students, teachers, and administrators at Orchards Elementary have turned an eyesore of an unattended lot into a working garden. A property next to the Evergreen Public Schools facility had become overgrown with blackberry bushes and debris, and school officials reached an agreement with landowner TMT Development to use the plot free of charge for the time being.

The result — following plenty of cleanup, volunteer hours and community involvement — is a garden where tomatoes, peas, peppers and other vegetables have been planted. By the time students return to school in September, they should have a bountiful harvest. The produce will be an enjoyable outcome from the endeavor, but the primary benefit will be an age-old lesson: Much of life’s most valuable learning takes place outside the classroom.

Jeers: As the weather starts to turn, precariously straddling that line between spring and summer, thoughts naturally turn to … mosquitoes.

Yes, those blood-sucking pests are, as Columbian reporter Sue Vorenberg wrote, “in prime form right now, looking for good breeding spots in sources of standing water to grow their numbers.” We have nothing against mosquitoes — except for a virulent, deep-seated dislike of them. And aside from simply being annoying, they can spread disease. So check around your homes for standing water, lest you become a breeding ground for the pests of summer.

Cheers: U.S. transportation officials have properly declared that details about oil train transports are not security sensitive. Oil and rail industry administrators have provided local safety officials with details regarding such shipments, but have balked at providing that information to the public. Now, the Federal Railroad Administration has determined that such information is not sensitive enough to withhold.

Whether or not an oil terminal gets built at the Port of Vancouver, oil trains will be coming through communities along the Columbia River. The public has a right — and a need — to know when and how many.