Strict Gun Laws Won’t Stop Violence But It Can’t Hurt

Jonathan Cohn and Nick Wing: “Would stricter gun laws have saved the lives of Alison Parker and Adam Ward? Probably not. Would stricter gun laws have saved the lives of many other people? Probably.”

“That’s a fair reading of the latest research — and something to remember now that Wednesday’s killing of the two television journalists, during a live interview, has politicians and pundits talking about gun violence again.”

“No other developed country has a gun homicide or gun violence rate even approaching that level … And while America’s high rate of gun violence undoubtedly reflects many factors, researchers like David Hemenway … have found a clear, strong relationship between gun ownership and gun-related deaths. In places where more people have guns, more people get killed by them.”

“Demonstrating that gun laws might cut down on gun deaths is even more difficult than establishing a link between firearms ownership and the extent of violence. But here, too, academics have recently produced important scholarship that bolsters the case for more regulation. ”

“The shootings that feature large numbers of casualties or spectacular circumstances … become national stories and galvanize the public. The vast majority of killings, which usually take place in the home and are twice as likely to be acts of suicide than murder, barely register. Yet it’s on these routine killings, which happen by the dozens every week, that stronger gun legislation is most likely to have an effect.”

What the ‘Berni Coefficient’ Tells Us About Support for Sanders

Nate Cohn uses the Gini coefficient (a measure of distribution), which he terms the “Berni coefficient,” to measure the turnout for Bernie Sanders. Despite Sanders’ big crowds, that fact is “as convincing as saying the Connecticut economy is booming because the houses in Greenwich are so big and pretty.”

A Berni coefficient of “one would mean that all Sanders’s volunteers were in one congressional district; zero would mean every district had the same amount. By this measure, the Sanders coalition is even more unequal than the wealth in the United States. The Sanders coefficient clocks in at 0.483. It basically resembles the state of Connecticut, the second-most unequal state in the country (New York is No. 1).”

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“The public opinion polls show the problem. While Mr. Sanders is in striking distance of Hillary Rodham Clinton in Oregon and Wisconsin — and a second New Hampshire poll shows him leading — there are vast swaths of the country where Mr. Sanders has little support at all. He’s down by 68 points in Alabama, 78 to 10.”

Sanders “needs to compete outside his strongholds. Whether he’s doing so — not whether he has great crowds — is the real measure of his success, just as the real measure of the economy is the success of the average worker, not the opulence of the 1 percent.”

‘Overwhelming Majority’ in Favor of EPA Clean Power Plan

Think Progress: “Americans support the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan by a margin of nearly two to one, a new poll from the League of Conservation Voters found.”

“Despite the rhetoric from some Republican governors, 70 percent of Americans want their states to develop plans to meet the EPA’s guidelines.”

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“According to the poll, conducted for the League of Conservation Voters by Hart Research, supporters of the plan outnumber opponents pretty much across the board.”

“’A majority of voters in every region of the country support it, as do a majority of voters in every age, education, and income category,’ the researchers found. And while there is majority support among both Democrats and Independents, Republicans are not far behind: 56 percent of ‘non-conservative’ Republicans are generally in favor of the Clean Power Plan, and 58 percent of all Republicans want their state to comply with the EPA rule — even if they don’t support it.”

Trump Takes Populist Stance on Taxes

Jim Tankersley, in the Washington Post, observes that Trump’s views on taxes “will absolutely chill establishment conservatives.”

“Trump isn’t running as a supply-sider. He’s running as a populist. He’s not arguing for lower top marginal tax rates or a flat tax, like most of his Republican rivals. He doesn’t appear to want to eliminate investment taxes, as Rubio proposes. He wants rich people to pay more.”

Asked in an interview if he was proposing to raise taxes on himself, Trump replied: “That’s right. That’s right. I’m okay with it, ready, willing. And you’ve seen my statements. I mean I do very well. I don’t mind paying some tax. The middle class is getting clobbered in this country. The middle class built this country, not the hedge fund guys. But I know people in hedge funds, they pay almost nothing, and it’s ridiculous, okay?”

California’s Investment in Energy Efficiency Yields Large Benefits

Clean Technica: “Over the last 40 years, the state of California has been investing in energy efficiency initiatives, to the tune of about $1 billion per year, and these efforts have saved its residents some $90 billion in utility costs, created ‘hundreds of thousands’ of energy efficiency jobs, and by the end of the decade will have avoided the pollution equivalent of 41 power plants, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).”

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“According to the updated report, Californians have household electric bills that are some $20 less per month than the national average, which can be attributed to energy saving programs, building codes, and higher standards for appliances. The per capita electricity use in California has also remained flat, according to NRDC, when compared to the increases in other parts of the country (which are up about 50% since the 1970s) thanks to these initiatives, and the state’s energy efficiency commitments have ‘reduced the overall electricity needed to serve customers by nearly one-fifth.’”

Americans on the Move

Christopher Ingraham and Emily Badger: “In any given year, about 8.5 million people move from one metropolitan area to another within the United States — from the Washington, D.C., region up to New York, or from New York to Philadelphia and farther away. These major moves — distinct from the kind you make across town, or even from the city to the suburbs — make up a relatively small share of all migration. Only about one in five movers today decamps for another metro area entirely.”

“In the table below, based on new five-year American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau, we’ve plotted annual migration totals among the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the United States … Surprisingly, 22,000 New Yorkers head to Miami, an unusually large migration for two metros 1,300 miles apart.”

“You can get a sense in this table of how regional proximity plays a big role in metro migration trends. More than 13,000 people head from Dallas to Houston each year, with a similar amount moving in the opposite direction. But the two Texas cities don’t see much in the way of migration to and from the other major metro areas in the chart, and they stand apart for sending particularly few people to New York.”

The Difficulty with Passing Gun Control Laws

Danny Hayes in The Washington Post: Will the recent shooting in Virgina be “the incident that leads to reforms that gun control advocates have for years pushed for? … Recent history says we should be doubtful. Not only do numerous political interests make it difficult to enact gun control legislation, but without major efforts by politicians themselves, the gun debate is likely to fade quickly from public view.”

“That’s because of what’s known as the ‘issue attention cycle.’ Mass shootings often generate significant media coverage immediately after they occur. But as time goes by, journalists move on to other stories, leading the public to grow less concerned with gun control. This is what happened in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. As the graph below shows, news coverage of gun control in the nation’s newspapers surged in the shooting’s aftermath, but declined quickly through 2013.”

Does Gun Ownership Correlate With Murder Rates?

Vox: “The United States owns way, way more guns per capita than the rest of the world. And the best research on gun violence suggests that’s probably contributing to our homicide problem — such as the horrific shooting in Virginia Wednesday morning.”

“Here’s a map of firearm ownership around the world, using 2012 data compiled by The Guardian. The United States has nearly twice as many guns per 100 people as the next closest, Yemen — 88.8 guns per 100 as opposed to 54.8 in Yemen:”

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“The American firearm homicide rate is about 20 times the average among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries (excluding Mexico).”

“Harvard researchers Daniel Hemenway and Matthew Miller examined 26 developed countries, and checked whether gun ownership correlated with murder rates. They found that ‘a highly significant positive correlation between total homicide rates and both proxies for gun availability.’ They also didn’t find much evidence that a higher rate of gun murders led to lower rates of other kinds of murder (i.e., stabbings).”

“A recent, highly sophisticated study found that, once you control for general crime rates and other confounding factors, ‘each 1 percentage point increase in proportion of household gun ownership’ translated to a 0.9 percent increase in homicides.”

Which Cities Are the Most Plagued by Traffic Gridlock?

Texas A&M Transportation Institute: “Just as the U.S. economy has regained nearly all of the 9 million jobs lost during the downturn, a new report produced by INRIX and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) shows that traffic congestion has returned to pre-recession levels.”

“According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard, travel delays due to traffic congestion caused drivers to waste more than 3 billion gallons of fuel and kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours – 42 hours per rush-hour commuter. The total nationwide price tag: $160 billion, or $960 per commuter.”

“Washington, D.C. tops the list of gridlock-plagued cities, with 82 hours of delay per commuter, followed by Los Angeles (80 hours), San Francisco (78 hours), New York (74 hours), and San Jose (67 hours).”

“Cities of all sizes are experiencing the challenges seen before the start of the recession – increased traffic congestion resulting from growing urban populations and lower fuel prices are outpacing the nation’s ability to build infrastructure.”

Trump Exposes the Real Motivations of the GOP

Paul Krugman, reflecting on Trump’s popularity, asks: “What happened to conservative principles?”

“Actually, nothing — because those alleged principles were never real. Conservative religiosity, conservative faith in markets, were never about living a godly life or letting the invisible hand promote entrepreneurship.”

“It’s really about who’s boss, and making sure that the man in charge stays boss. Trump is admired for putting women and workers in their place, and it doesn’t matter if he covets his neighbor’s wife or demands trade wars.”

“The point is that Trump isn’t a diversion, he’s a revelation, bringing the real motivations of the movement out into the open.”

Is Obamacare Still a Campaign Issue?

Drew Altman: “Campaign rhetoric may give the impression that the ACA is a threshold issue for Republican voters, but polling indicates that it is just one of many issues GOP voters care about.”

“In the Kaiser Family Foundation’s August tracking poll, 69% of Republican registered voters said they would consider a candidate’s views on the ACA as one of many factors determining their vote; just 12% said they would ‘only vote for a candidate who shares their views on the ACA.’ Eighteen percent said this issue would not be a factor in their vote. The findings suggest that Republican candidates are not likely to win many primary votes based solely on their ACA positions.”

“Separately, a challenge for those candidates offering replacement plans is that Republican voters are somewhat divided on what they would like Congress to do next about the ACA … There is no groundswell of support–at least not yet–among the Republican base for replacement plans. That could be because there is no consensus replacement idea around which to coalesce, or because voters are tiring of the debate, or for other reasons.”

“Overall … it’s not clear that any position will distinguish one candidate from the others in a crowded field.”

 

Republicans Support State Marijuana Laws

Christopher Ingraham: “By significant margins, Republican voters in the early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire say that states should be able to carry out their own marijuana laws without federal interference. Sixty-four percent of GOP voters in Iowa say that states should be able to carry out their own laws vs. only 21 percent who say that the federal government should arrest and prosecute people who are following state marijuana laws.”

“These numbers come from recent surveys conducted by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by reform group Marijuana Majority. They come as some GOP candidates, such as Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), have stepped up their anti-marijuana rhetoric in recent weeks.”

“Marijuana policy is not a make-or-break issue like jobs or the economy for most voters. But in a crowded primary field, it could mean the difference between, say, a seat at the main debate table and relegation to the sidelines.”