By Jamie Butow
Since the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last month, articles and columns about gun laws have triggered great debate online. This isn't surprising given the tragedy and the sensitivity to Second Amendment issues.
That topic, dominating discussion on BakersfieldCalifornian.com in recent weeks, was boosted by last week's shooting at Taft High School here locally.
"Weapons have been around for a long time, as soon as people realized they had to protect themselves against criminals. There are two kinds of people, those that live by the law and those that break the law. Which one are you?" asks reader jo-lee on one Californian article about the Taft shooting.
That was just one of more than 100 comments posted in less than 48 hours on our articles detailing the events of last Thursday (you can find them at www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/taft-shooting).
News of the shooting spiked our Web traffic Thursday and Friday, with a large number of visitors from outside the United States -- primarily from Canada and the United Kingdom, according to our analytics.
But interest in the topic was high prior to the Taft shooting. Californian contributing columnist Jose Gaspar wrote two weeks ago about elected officials' plans to introduce legislation in their respective states that would allow teachers to be armed on campus.
In reaction to that column, reader scienceteacher commented, "Yes we want school personnel armed. Properly. It might be a shootout. But better than one crazy guy taking target practice."
And by far our most commented article in recent months is "Local gun owners say more restrictions not the answer," posted Dec. 17.
To date, 64 comments comprise that discussion on Second Amendment rights and responsibilities.
Political stories typically generate a lot of discussion, especially given the recent economic turmoil.
Like many articles on McCarthy, the majority of these comments condemn McCarthy's actions or call on him for more action.
If the comments are an indication, one has to wonder how he was re-elected in November with more than 70 percent of the vote.
Over on our Facebook page (Facebook.com/BakersfieldCalifornian), readers are finding a way to blame seemingly everything on President Obama, Nancy Pelosi or the NRA.
Even a post about the Golden Globe awards (which by most accounts was very well received by viewers) garnered several comments like this one:
"Oscars, Golden Globes, Hollywood Film Awards ... Just a bunch of self righteous overpaid 1%ers patting each other on the back. Obama needs to regulate the film and TV industries. These people make way too much money for what they do." -- Darrin Grogan
Our most commented Facebook post in the past month came on a Jan. 9 random question asking "Is it tacky or smart to include a gift receipt?" We're up to 52 comments with some interesting reasoning on both sides.
You can see the most popular articles for the past 24 hours each day on BakersfieldCalifornian.com. Look for the Trending Locally bar at the top of the page.