Editorial: American Roulette

The first shots rang out on the Las Vegas Strip at 10:08 p.m. PDT.

Less than 9 hours later, with victims still succumbing to their wounds and the country just starting to wrestle with the enormity of Sunday night’s attack, stocks of U.S. gunmakers were already rising.

This is the new normal.

With the provocative headline “Gun stocks are getting their usual post-bloodshed pop,” an article in Vice News explained the phenomenon.

“Stocks in gun companies have been known to rise in the aftermath of American mass killings, as the killings can lead to an increase in chatter surrounding the imposition of new laws restricting gun sales,” the article reads.

“And while Congress hasn’t passed any new tough new gun laws since 1994’s assault weapons ban (since allowed to expire), the mere mention of new restrictions has been enough to spur a short-term rise in gun sales, and therefore profits for gun makers.”

Editorial: In Worcester, help instead of handcuffs for drug buyers

It’s a thought a lot of us have had about the heartache of opioid abuse: People caught buying narcotics on the street need to be rescued, not arrested.

Many of those wrestling with addiction realize it, too, somewhere under the monster of their problem. And increasingly across the country, officials are thinking the same thing, that opioid addicts need help.

Massachusetts has chosen Worcester to lead the way in putting this powerful thought into practice.

Launched Thursday at Worcester Police headquarters, a pilot program funded with a $99,000 state grant is designed to steer opioid users into treatment instead of court dates, fines, possible jail and the continued grip of addiction. The Buyer Diversion Treatment Program will give some people caught buying illegal drugs the option of entering into arrest or detox.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 201]: Trump bashing? There’s a remote chance you’ll miss it

Even the best of our presidents had their flaws.

Transformational JFK was a legendary lecher (and not the only one). Washington and Jefferson were among those to infamously own slaves. The list goes on. But President Trump raises the ire of his opponents like few elected leaders in history.

His recent irresponsibly pandering speech and attack on the First Amendment rights of NFL players is merely the latest salvo from the Troll-in-Chief.

Hitch, for one, thinks it’s high time to change the channel.

Editorial: Sports and the racial divide

If social media is any significant part of your online habit, your feeds have most likely become overwhelmed with posts about NFL protests in which players or entire teams took a knee or locked arms during the national anthem.

The madness began Friday night when, during a speech in Huntsville, Alabama, President Trump shamelessly pandered to his base by calling for players who knelt during the anthem to lose their jobs.

How very patriotic (the Sun editors said sarcastically).

Editorial: A dose of good sense, ‘conscience’ in Congress

Healthcare reform needs heroes to cut through the nonsense.

Friday, it got one.

Sen. John McCain, explaining his lack of support for the Senate’s latest healthcare bill, had one of the bluntest, most helpful takes on this issue we’ve heard lately.

“A bill of this impact requires a bipartisan approach,” the Arizona Republican said in a statement.

Peel away all the arguing, rushing, concealing and maneuvering of the last few months and years, and that is the prescription: a bipartisan approach. As McCain understands — along with a few other courageous leaders in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats — our government has to stop dodging that approach or dooming its occasional stabs at it, and begin cooperating in earnest.

McCain’s decision — joining Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s hard “no” of several days ago — likely killed the Republicans’ latest effort to undo Obamacare.

Editorial: Tax breaks for homeowners

Where are the tax breaks for the little guy?

It’s not uncommon these days to read about governments providing tax breaks to companies in exchange for the promise of jobs, development or both.

General Electric received a package worth $151 million to relocate to Boston. Included in the package was $25 million in property tax breaks. And Boston and the state are working on a package in an attempt to lure Amazon to locate its second headquarters here.

Closer to home, the city of Worcester has used Tax Increment Financing (TIFs), District Increment Financing (DIF), Tax Increment Exemption (TIE) and Investment Tax Credit deals to spur development. The latest is a TIE deal that will save the developers of Harding Green $838,000 over 10 years for a mixed-use development in the Canal District.

Worcester’s track record with TIF agreements is generally positive. According to a city report in May, the 24 active TIF agreements between 2012 and 2017 have:

Editorial: Oohs and aahs for ofo

Oof, those seven hills!

Other than that, ofo’s arrival in Worcester signals a city coasting smoothly forward.

On Thursday, the Beijing-based company launched its bike-sharing program in a ceremony at City Hall, capping months of preparing and research helped by local leaders and scholars. The stars of the cheerful kickoff were dozens of bright-yellow ofo bikes, ready to get going under the guidance of anyone over the age of 18 with a smartphone, a dollar and an hour.

A little ofo 101 is in order. Don’t be fooled: These substantial, simply styled bicycles may look old-fashioned, but they’re as high-tech as they come.

Editorial: What’s next for North Main Street?

The revitalization of downtown as a retail center and destination has been dealt a double dose of disheartening disclosures in the past week.

The first was the announcements that Shack’s, the iconic clothier at Main and Mechanic streets, will close its doors for the final time on Sept. 30.

The second was that its bookend on North Main Street, Elwood Adams Hardware, 156 Main St., will also close as early as the end of September.

It is too soon to tell whether these closing are harbingers of more bad news or simply unrelated events. However, the history of the businesses that are closing — Shack’s has been in business 89 years and Elwood Adams opened in 1782 — should give us pause.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 196]: Big question looming over Worcester election

Having our voices heard in the Democratic process has been a touchstone of American values since a bunch of angry Bostonians took out their frustrations on a shipment of tea.

And every time an election or town meeting or referendum comes up, the chorus begins anew: The right to vote is a privilege too sacrosanct to take for granted.

So, what should we expect in a preliminary race loaded with serious, qualified and interesting candidates? Hitch has an idea.

Editorial: Policing the use of military gear

Trump’s willingness to talk or act first, and think later — if ever — means we citizens have to be on guard against erosions of the values we cherish.

Police armed to the teeth and ready to show you who’s boss — that’s one side of policing.

It’s a side President Trump clearly favors. He recently signed an executive order allowing police departments wider access to surplus military equipment, including bayonets and armored vehicles, undoing restrictions ordered by President Obama in 2015 after a series of events in Ferguson, Missouri, the previous summer, spurred by the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.

Trump has offered fiery law-and-order rhetoric that undermines fundamental boundaries and practices of our system, such as the legal assumption of innocence and professional comportment when in uniform.

In July, for instance, speaking on Long Island, New York, he told law enforcement officials, “You can take the hand away, OK?” instead of protecting the heads of arrestees — “thugs” — as they are placed in the back of a squad car. (Attorney General Jeff Sessions later claimed the president’s controversial comments were “done in jest.”)

Thankfully his remarks that day, suggesting some level of police brutality is acceptable, were met with consternation and pushback from cooler heads and people who actually practice local law enforcement.