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We begin today's roundup with reaction to a plan by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to address gun violence in Chicago. The New York Times thinks the mayor's proposal is a good step forward:
This time, zoning regulations would be used to limit gun shops to less than 1 percent of the city’s geographic area, with tight auditing of the shops, sales limited to one handgun per customer per month, a 72-hour waiting period to buy handguns and the simple videotaping of gun sales to deter buyers from using false identification.

The proposals do not answer the full scope of Chicago’s gun problem since 60 percent of the weapons used in crimes in the city are traceable to legal outlets in surrounding states and suburbs with weak-to-nonexistent controls on gun sales. But they do attempt to stop buyers who shop in volume and funnel guns into the underworld.

Tim Kreider:
Look, we've collectively decided, as a country, that the occasional massacre is okay with us. It's the price we're willing to pay for our precious Second Amendment freedoms. We're content to forfeit the lives of a few dozen schoolkids a year as long as we get to keep our guns. The people have spoken, in a cheering civics-class example of democracy in action.

It's hard to imagine what ghastly catastrophe could possibly change America's minds about guns if the little bloody bookbags of Newtown did not. After that atrocity, it seemed as if we would finally enact some obvious, long-overdue half-measures. But perfectly reasonable, moderate legislation expanding background checks and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was summarily killed in the Senate for no reason other than that a sufficient number of United States senators are owned by the NRA. It made our official position as a nation nakedly explicit: we don't care about any number of murdered children, no matter how many, or how young. We want our guns.

More on the day's top stories below the fold.

Yes, this happened on NPR:

An NPR interview in Chicago included an all-too-real example of the city's violence when a burst of gunfire erupted down the street from where NPR's David Schaper was conducting an interview Wednesday. He had been speaking to a neighborhood activist when a gunman opened fire nearby.

David was reporting a story on efforts to reclaim and repurpose community eyesores when the shots were fired. The radio story that aired on today's Morning Edition is jarring, as a talk about community engagement is suddenly overcome by shots that rang out shortly after kids had gotten out of school.

Michele Richinick at MSNBC:
With Congress unlikely to pass gun-related legislation anytime soon, activists on both sides of the debate are taking matters into their own hands.

It’s not that Democrats aren’t trying. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Wednesday that House Democrats are considering attempting to add gun control measures to an appropriations bill this week.

But liberals across the country aren’t holding their breath. Instead, they’re focusing their energies on doing what Congress won’t: preventing another tragedy like Saturday’s mass shooting in Isla Vista, Calif.

Michael R. Bloomberg, Thomas M. Menino and Martin J. Walsh don't want guns on college campuses:
What’s the problem with guns on campus? Anyone who has ever attended a fraternity party – or gone to a college bar — knows the answer to that question. Binge drinking has long been a problem at colleges, and increasingly, so is drug use. Throwing guns into the mix would be a lethal combination.

College administrators know this — which is why, when given the opportunity to opt out of laws that would otherwise allow guns on campus, they almost uniformly do so. College presidents also know what’s best for their bottom line: a safe, inviting environment where students can worry about grades, not guns.

We entrust colleges and universities with students at pivotal times in their personal development. To keep them safe, administrators should be able to determine their own policies on firearms, without ideologically-driven interference from state legislators.

Switching topics to the environment, Paul Krugman lays out the costs of addressing global climate change:
Next week the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce new rules designed to limit global warming. Although we don’t know the details yet, anti-environmental groups are already predicting vast costs and economic doom. Don’t believe them. Everything we know suggests that we can achieve large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at little cost to the economy.

Just ask the United States Chamber of Commerce.

O.K., that’s not the message the Chamber of Commerce was trying to deliver in the report it put out Wednesday. It clearly meant to convey the impression that the E.P.A.’s new rules would wreak havoc. But if you focus on the report’s content rather than its rhetoric, you discover that despite the chamber’s best efforts to spin things — as I’ll explain later, the report almost surely overstates the real cost of climate protection — the numbers are remarkably small.

David Firestone:
The big-money coalition attacking solar and wind power scored a huge trophy this week. On Wednesday, the Ohio legislature became the first in the country to roll back renewable-energy standards for power generation, a victory for fossil fuels, soot and greenhouse gases. Gov. John Kasich is expected to sign the bill shortly. [...] One of the principal advocates of the Ohio rollback was State Senator Bill Seitz, a Republican from Cincinnati and a member of ALEC’s board. He made his feelings about the renewable requirement quite clear to the Wall Street Journal last year, saying it reminded him of “Joseph Stalin’s five-year plan.” The Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity applauded the Ohio bill, naturally, making the specious claim that that the renewable requirement would have cost consumers money. What they’re really worried about, of course, is that these requirements will cost them money, and will demonstrate the importance of government energy regulation.
Ryan Cooper at The Week urges America to lead on the issue:
Set aside for the moment the idea that the U.S. — the world's worst emitter, historically speaking — is ethically obliged to make greater sacrifices than others. Effective action on climate will require some kind of international agreement, and Obama's regulations are a key part of executing that strategy.

What people tend to forget is that India and China also have a very strong interest in preventing catastrophic climate change. These are developing countries with a limited ability to adapt and huge populations that remain in poverty. Even a marginal rise in sea levels will stretch both countries as they struggle to respond to extreme weather and other disasters, which are precisely the kinds of events that can upend existing power structures, even in communist China.

America is in a much different position. First of all, it can afford to spend a lot more money. Second, it is quite energy inefficient, which means there's a lot of room to slash consumption without inflicting much actual pain. Europe, by contrast, is already fairly efficient, and would struggle to post efficiency gains that the U.S. could make without blinking.

And, on a final note, David Takeuchi wants politics out of scientific research:
As Americans, we pride ourselves on being leaders in science and innovation. Our researchers have unlocked the power of different forms of energy, pioneered the field of genetics, explored the mysteries of the oceans and space, decreased child mortality, and made life in our cities safer.

Unfortunately, Congress is now debating a proposed law that threatens to undermine our future as one of the world’s leaders in scientific progress. Called the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act, or FIRST Act, it would limit the amount of funding directed toward research in the social sciences, and empower the federal government to make political decisions about what constitutes the most worthwhile research. [...]

The legislation’s chief supporter is US Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. He supports the act’s focus on the areas of science that are “critical for economic growth, and keeping the economy strong.” Which raises the question: Where does this leave every other societal issue?


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