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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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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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