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Obama in Minnesota sees national gun 'consensus' emerging

At The Washington Post, Philip Rucker covers President Obama’s Minnesota trip, saying: “The president sought to drive a wedge between the powerful National Rifle Association, which opposes universal background checks, and the American public, which polls suggest overwhelmingly supports the idea. Referring to ‘lobbyists in Washington claiming to speak for gun owners,’ Obama said, ‘We can’t allow those filters to get in the way of common sense. ... I need everybody who’s listening to keep the pressure on their members of Congress to do the right thing.’ The stagecraft of Obama’s visit Monday, with dozens of police officers and sheriff’s deputies standing behind him, underscored the central role the White House hopes law enforcement officials will play in the political fight for tougher gun laws. The event bore echoes of President Bill Clinton’s successful effort nearly two decades ago to enlist law enforcement support for passage of the 1994 crime bill, which included a 10-year ban on assault rifles that has since expired.”

In the New York Times, Andrew Rosenthal writes: “Mr. Obama has a history of making concessions in negotiations that have not yet started. But the president’s speech, delivered in Minneapolis with uniformed police officers and sheriff’s deputies lined up behind him (a fairly cheesy trick, now obligatory), was not a disappointment. Mr. Obama noted that he had already done what is within his power as president — signing executive orders that, among other things, directed the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health to conduct research on gun violence. (The Republicans effectively put a stop to that sort of suspicious left-wing activity back in the 1990s when it prohibited the CDC from using its funds to ‘advocate or promote gun control.’) But, Mr. Obama said, ‘real and lasting changes also requires Congress to do its part and soon.’ The good news, he said, ‘is we are starting to see a consensus emerge’ on how to respond to the epidemic of gun violence In this country.”

FoxNews presented the story this way: “President Obama on Monday tried to undercut National Rifle Association leaders and appeal directly to their membership, claiming gun owners support the ‘common-sense’ gun control measures he's proposed — and urging those supporters to ‘keep the pressure’ on Congress.  The president spoke in Minnesota, in his first campaign-style stop as part of a second-term push for new firearms laws.  On the other side of that debate, the NRA has aggressively argued against Democrats' call for a new and stronger assault-weapons ban, a ban on high-capacity magazines and universal background checks. But in a risky move, the president used his speech Monday to try and sideline America's most powerful gun lobby. … Despite opposition not only from the NRA but a number of Republican lawmakers, Obama tried to claim Monday that a ‘consensus’ is forming around the kinds of gun control measures he's pushing in Washington, in the wake of the tragic Newtown, Conn., shooting.”

In his story on the visit, MPR’s Mark Zdechlik writes: “Hamline University Law Professor Joseph Olson, who also sits on the board of the National Rifle Association, was not at the Obama event but said he doubts any of the president's proposals would do anything to prevent mass shootings like the one in Connecticut. ‘Let's face it, anyone who is in the slightest way connected to the drug trade and can get cocaine by the pound can get any firearm he wants delivered by the same seller,’ Olson said. ‘The same thing is true of people like Adam Lanza. If you're willing to shoot someone three times in the face in order to take their gun, then you're going to get their gun.’ Olson, who has long opposed efforts to restrict 2nd Amendment rights, said the president didn't say that his proposal to expand criminal background checks would also create a permanent database of every gun owner in the country.” So, kind of like we have with houses and cars, right?

For MSNBC, Yardina Schwartz writes: “The president appeared to be aiming his remarks not at the crowd gathered in Minnesota, but at lawmakers in Washington. Congress is expected to put up a tough fight against the proposals, which include banning semi-automatic weapons, high-capacity magazines, and instituting universal background checks. The president’s comments could have been meant for the gun lobby as well. In the current debate over gun control, it has become conventional wisdom that the NRA’s opposition to stricter gun laws stands in the way of President Obama’s push for new gun regulation. The theory goes that senators and congressmen refuse to stand up to the NRA because the powerful gun lobby will make sure they lose their next election. But now that argument is being tested, and as it turns out, the power of the NRA may be more myth than reality. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) has been studying the results of the last several elections, and on Andrea Mitchell Reports on Monday, he said the influence of the gun lobby simply isn’t what it used to be. Pointing to the 2012 election, Murphy said, ‘In all of the states with a lot of NRA members [who opposed President Obama] like Florida and Pennsylvania and Ohio, they lost and lost big.’ ”

For the lefty site Think Progress, Zack Beauchamp says: “So what can be learned from Minneapolis? First, law enforcement needn’t be about arresting kids to matter. Integrating the police with mentoring and social welfare programs appears to more successfully reduce youth gun violence while at the same time throwing less kids in jail. Second, data matters. Pooling police, public health, and school data about youth (gun) violence allowed Minneapolis to develop a program tailored to its specific needs. Federal laws currently sharply restrict data collection and pooling for the purposes of gun violence prevention. Third, there’s no substitute for smart gun regulations. Though crime has decreased, Gretchen Musicant, one of the driving forces behind the [Minneapolis] blueprint, told ThinkProgress that ‘access to guns’ was still a problem in part because state preemption laws (as in most states) prevent a wide swath of firearm regulation at the city level. But Mayor Rybak is thinking creatively about that too — he’s planning to use the city’s leverage [as] a gun purchaser (for police) to punish gun companies that lobby against more regulation.” Only he’s said it nicer than that.

But before you start feeling too good … Reg Chapman of WCCO-TV checks out … the run on ammo: “People who sell guns and ammo say they’ve seen ammo shortages before. Remember Y2K? Many people went out then and bought guns and ammunition, leading to a shortage. Because of all the recent talk of gun control, consumers are reportedly running out to buy guns and ammunition again. That, plus a couple of other things, could be why it’s so hard to find certain kinds of ammo.” My guess is they stockpile after every Sasquatch sighting, too.

And wait until they get better batteries. Dave Shaffer of the Strib writes: “A Minnesota company backed by the world’s No. 3 solar panel manufacturer is aiming to sell electric utilities a small-scale solution to a big problem. Silent Power of Baxter, Minn., manufactures a refrigerator-sized cabinet full of batteries and circuit boards that the company’s CEO, John Frederick, says can store and deliver electricity when it’s needed, such as on hot summer days when power demand peaks. ‘2013 is the year we go out of pilot [stage] and into deployment’, Frederick said of the 10-year-old company, whose technology also faces a critical test.”

Guess who sees no good reason for Black History Month. Paul Mirengoff at Power Line writes: “February is Black History Month, as everyone with school-age children must know. Charles Cooke at NRO makes a strong case against having such a month. I concur. In my view, Black History Month operates to warp students’ understanding of American History and to assist those who wish to demonize America. I also believe these effects are intended by many of those who have foisted the present incarnation of this event on Americam students. Understand that students typically don’t study American History until around the Fifth Grade (that, at least, is how it was when my daughters were in grade school). Thus, their only exposure to American History before that time is, annually, through Black History Month. This means that, for 3 to 5 years, students learn about slavery and the atrocious first 100 years after slavery, without learning anything positive about America other than (if they are lucky) that the situation has improved. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the victory over the Nazis, etc. must all wait.”

After everything else, now we have to worry about “golfer frustrations.” Eric Roper of the Strib looks at the conflict over Theodore Wirth Park and says: “Cross-country skiers and off-road bikers say they need a home. Golfers worry they're being edged out. Minneapolis' largest park is caught in a tug of war as it considers changes to keep up with evolving interests in sports and their competing needs. Golfer frustration that's been brewing over the potential changes spilled over during a public comment session at a Park Board meeting last month. ... ‘It's a bit of culture shift ...,’ said Bruce Chamberlain, Minneapolis Park Board assistant superintendent. ‘And it's because of the changing dynamic of the city and what people want out of recreation.’ ” So how about a course where skiers or bikers play electronic pull-tabs?

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