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Gun Ownership Upper Midwestern Snapshot

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The mass murders at Virginia Tech University this week have inspired those in gun control circles to renew their pressure on politicians to reexamine our nation's gun laws; it has also caused 2nd Amendment strict constructionists to dig in deeper to fight against such changes.

In their coverage of the Virginia Tech story, the media has frequently portrayed Virginia's gun laws as too lax. Some may be surprised to learn, then, that gun ownership is equal to or higher across the Upper Midwest than in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A March 2007 SurveyUSA poll found 46 percent of Virginians own guns, compared to 50 percent of Wisconsinites, 50 percent of Minnesotans, and 46 percent of Iowans. The most recent poll of South Dakotans found 61 percent owned guns (SurveyUSA, November 2006). The surveys do not distinguish between types of firearms, and, to be sure, a substantial portion of Upper Midwesterners who own guns only own hunting rifles, not handguns.

In 2003 the Wisconsin Legislature considered legislation permitting concealed weapons, though the majority of Wisconsinites opposed the right of its residents to carry on both their own property (56 percent) and in public (60 percent) (WPR / St. Norbert College, November 2003).

When concealed weapon laws came to the forefront in the Minnesota legislature in 2003, less than one quarter of Minnesotans (22 percent) stated they would consider applying for a permit to carry a handgun (Minnesota Poll, April 2003).

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Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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