Gun Policy Changes|
After the horrific shooting that included 20 innocent kindergarten children
at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, President
Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats show signs of supporting gun policy
changes. President Obama said at a memorial service that he planned to take
executive action to reduce shootings, although he has not yet specified what
that action might be. The White House is considering a ban on high-capacity
magazines, as well as other measures pertaining to certain fire arms. Into the
closing bell on Wall Street on Monday, Smith & Wesson Holding Corp (SWHC) was
lower by over 5% and Sturm Ruger & Co. (RGR) was off by nearly 4%. A moderate
Democrat from Kentucky Representative John Yarmuth said in a statement, “I have
been largely silent on the issue of gun violence over the past six years, and I
am now as sorry for that as I am for what happened to the families who lost so
much in this most recent, but sadly not isolated, tragedy. The National Rifle
Association has spent untold millions of dollars instilling fear in our citizens
and our politicians.” Yarmuth added, “I believe it is more rational to fear guns
far more than the illusory political power of the N.R.A.” The National Rifle
Association has been largely silent since the shootings on Friday morning.
Congressional leaders have been heard commenting, that they know of no one in
the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle and they know
of no one who needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting. Gun control has been
something of a third rail for many lawmakers, including President Obama, who
critics say has not pushed for any meaningful reforms, but this is likely to
change. Any effort to rewrite gun laws in Congress would certainly be a
complicated and difficult task. Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, who is the
chairman of a subcommittee on the Constitution and civil rights wrote, “What
will it take?" listing one by one the mass shootings that have occurred in the
United States over the past few years. “What it will take is for the majority of
Americans, and the majority of thoughtful gun owners and hunters, to agree that
there must be reasonable limits on gun ownership and weapons.” With emotions
running high after the Newtown massacre, Democrats said they anticipated a call
from gun rights advocates to resist emotional calls to rewrite gun laws. And
advocates for changes are certain to face a tough battle as they run up against
one of Washington’s most powerful and well-financed lobbies. Mayor Michael R.
Bloomberg of New York held a news conference on Monday with dozens of people who
had lost loved ones to gun violence, at which he unveiled a video campaign and
Web site demanding that Mr. Obama and Congress do something about guns. Albany,
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said he would make several gun policy proposals in his
state, in his state address next month. Cuomo, who was a strong advocate for gun
control as secretary of housing and urban development in the Clinton
administration, said that the state’s assault weapons ban has multiple loopholes
that need to be addressed, but that action really needs to happen at the federal
level. Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York called for “a new paradigm” in the
gun control debate and cautioned that proponents of tighter regulation needed to
be mindful of the concerns of responsible gun owners as they pursued their
cause, which has so often fallen short. “First, those of us who are
pro-gun-control have to admit that there is a Second Amendment right to bear
arms,” he said. And the other side, he added, was being counterproductive by
claiming “the left wants to take that hunting rifle your Uncle Tommy gave you
when you were 15.”
President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met at the White House on
Monday and apparently negotiations are more optimistic. Over the weekend,
Boehner offered to allow higher taxes on incomes of $1 million and above plus,
agreed to increase the debt ceiling for one year. White House spokesperson Jay
Carney told reporters, “Conversations continue.” The new proposal from Boehner
would reportedly bring in $1 trillion in revenue over 10 years, compared to $1.4
trillion for proposal from Obama. While Boehner would agree to raise the debt
ceiling for one year, the President wants unlimited power to increase the
country’s borrowing limit. Boehner wants $1 trillion in spending cuts which
would include cuts to entitlement programs in exchange for the $1 trillion in
revenue. The positive effects of possible aversion of the fiscal cliff helped
pushed the markets higher, into rally mode at the close of Monday's trading
session with the Dow Jones Industrial average up over 100 points, S&P 500 closed
higher by over 16 points and NASDAQ tacked on gains of over 39 points at the
On a positive note, during the month of December, the price of gas at the pump
has fallen by 15.4 cents, striking the lowest price seen since December 2011,
according to AAA. Into the upcoming Christmas holiday, this in itself is a gift
for those taking to the highway. According to AAA Michael Green, an estimated
84.4 million Americans will be hitting the road over the holiday season. The
estimated numbers are up 1.3% from 83.3 million people who traveled over the
holiday season in 2011.
The New York Federal Reserve Bank said Monday that the Empire State
manufacturing index remained in negative territory for the fifth month
consecutive month. During December, the index fell to negative 8.1 from negative
5.2 in November. Readings below zero indicate a decline in activity. Key new
orders sub-index fell below zero after returning to positive territory in
November and shipments retreated as well. The New York Fed reported that
employment conditions remained in negative territory. Manufacturers in the parts
of the region hit by Hurricane Sandy estimated that revenues in October were 7%
lower than otherwise would have been and were 5% lower during November.
The U.S. Treasury Department reported on Monday that foreign investors were net
buyers of Treasurys in October, one month after they were net sellers of the
largest amount of bonds on record. During October, foreigners bought a net $7.6
billion of U.S. Treasurys, up from net sales of $18.3 billion in September.
Overall, the U.S. Treasury Department said foreign investors bought a net $28.4
billion of long-term U.S. securities in October, up from the $17.8 billion
purchased in September. This amount includes Treasurys, mortgage-related bonds,
corporate bonds and equities. China-based investors slightly increased their
holdings of U.S. Treasurys in the month, according to the U.S. Treasury
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