"I am a law-abiding citizen and responsible gun owner. I am saddened by the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut, but I believe that efforts to impose new restrictions on me and other lawful and responsible owners like me are misguided. Did you know that violent crime with firearms has declined since the Federal 'assault weapons ban' expired in 2004?
"Your focus should be on strengthening mental health care and improving the quality of data supporting NICS checks (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). Do NOT pass more gun laws; instead, work to enforce the more than 20,000 gun laws already on the books. I am your constituent and I vote. Please represent me."
And so reads a suggested letter to elected officials from Ruger, a New Hampshire-based firearms manufacturer.
"Our motto is 'arms makers for responsible citizens.' It is not just a slogan; it is genuine recognition that millions of law-abiding citizens use our firearms safely and responsibly every day. We are mechanics, doctors, teachers, police officers, firemen, nurses, factory workers, and every other occupation you can name. We are a vast and too-often silent majority," the company says.
NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP
"A new Congress has now been sworn in, and immediately faces challenges relating to the economy, the debt ceiling, government spending, entitlement and tax code reform, and pressure to enact legislation on gun control and immigration, among other things. In the broadest sense, one bit of good news for the new Congress is that its current job approval ratings are so low that they have practically nowhere to go but up," points out Gallup director Frank Newport.
That's only slight comfort to voters, particularly Republicans, who now give Congress a lousy 6 percent job approval rating in a new Gallup poll released Friday. Among Democrats, the number is 15 percent. And among Americans overall, it's 14 percent.
A PERRY RENAISSANCE
Could Republicans re-examine the charms of Texas Gov. Rick Perry? Well, maybe.
"At least on paper, Perry is more in tune with the needs of the Republican Party post-2012 than any of his counterparts from the last primary. Right now, Republicans are, ostensibly, scrambling to figure out how to appeal to Hispanics and talk to them without sounding like imbeciles. Perry could teach them a thing or two," says Bloomberg Businessweek national correspondent Joshua Green.
"He's also a committed devotee of the small-government, states' rights, tea party worldview that's still dominant within the GOP," he adds. "Is Perry positioned for a comeback? I doubt it. But if he runs, he'll be more in [sync] with what I expect Republicans to be looking for in a nominee than most people credit him."
GUNS AND TIARAS
It was once an annual ritual about American beauty, good will, common sense and tiaras, perhaps. The politics of gun control, however, became a contestant at the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
"Good evening, Miss New York. In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, there is a lot of talk about gun control. One solution being proposed is an armed guard in every school. Do you think that would make our schools safer?" pageant judge Sam Champion -- an ABC weatherman who was provided with the question -- asked Brooklyn beauty Mallory Hagan, who won the title.
"I don't think the proper way to fight violence is with violence. I think the proper way is to educate people on guns and the ways that we can use them properly. We can lock them up, we can have gun safety classes, we can have a longer waiting period. The answer is not to fight violence with violence, however," Miss Hagan replied.
"Miss New York, the New Miss America, espouses liberal conventional wisdom on guns," observes Brent Baker, an analyst with the Media Research Center.
She also "matched the attitude toward guns espoused by her very liberal governor, Andrew Cuomo," Mr. Baker adds, musing, "as if law enforcement officers carrying guns fuels violence."
Las Vegas Sun gossip writer John Katsilometes says the question won the crown.
"The question: What separated Miss New York Mallory Hagan from the field to win Saturday's Miss America pageant?" he asks. "The Answer: The answer." Which was, he says, "crisp and opinionated."
"President Obama was 'totally furious' he spent a week of his time posing for a trillion-dollar platinum coin that would never be minted, a White House source confirmed today," says New Yorker comedic columnist Andy Borowitz in a parody news report.
"Mr. Obama devoted much of last week to posing for the trillion-dollar coin on the assurances of outgoing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who told Mr. Obama that the coin had 'a way better than 50 percent chance' of being minted," Mr. Borowitz continues.
He later concludes, "The coin fiasco behind him, Mr. Obama has now apparently learned his lesson, the source said: 'If this coin idea ever comes up again, he's going to make Biden pose for it.'"
POLL DU JOUR
• 50 percent of Americans say they "sympathize more" with Israel than with the Palestinians.
• 70 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of conservative Republicans, 41 percent of Democrats and 33 percent of liberal Democrats agree.
• 10 percent of Americans overall sympathize with the Palestinians.
• 2 percent of Republicans, 2 percent of conservative Republicans, 13 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of liberal Democrats agree.
• 41 percent of Americans overall say U.S. support for Israel is "about right."
• 34 percent of Republicans, 29 percent of conservative Republicans, 55 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of liberal Democrats agree.
Source: A Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll of 1,503 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 5 to 9 and released Tuesday.
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