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Phil BergerWRAL has video of all 36 minutes of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s surprisingly far-ranging press conference today and today’s edition of the Fitzsimon File will have a thorough analysis shortly.

For those looking for some preliminary quick takeaways, however, here were a few of the highlights/low-lights:

Berger has decided to go all in with the far right agenda and appears to see it as his pathway to seeking the GOP nomination to take on Kay Hagan in 2014. Moreover, his legislative “agenda” was/is an utterly predictable recitation of Locke Foundation/Civitas/Art Pope priorities: Read More

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Demand a plan on gunsNew York’s legislature appears to be making some modest progress on complying with the Second Amendment’s demand for a well-regulated militia. According to news reports, state lawmakers have reached a bipartisan agreement with Governor Cuomo to further restrict assault weapons and make it harder for persons with mental illness to commit murders. Good for them.

Meanwhile, here in North Carolina, a handful of local mayors held a press event yesterday to endorse the eminently sane demands of the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns that a plan be crafted to address the nation’s absurd gun-related murder rate.

Finally, if you’re looking for a common sense explanation of what’s at-stake, how truly modest the demands and objectives of the pro-militia regulation forces are and how utterly insane some of the troubled folks are on the other side, take a few minutes to watch Jon Stewart explain it all. Click here for Stewart’s powerful video from last week.

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The New York Times gives voice to an appropriately pessimistic set of expectations about what the National Rifle Association will have to say when its leaders speak out today on the Newtown tragedy. Let’s hope the paper is wrong, but this part of the editorial seems almost sure to be on the money:

“We would like to believe that the N.R.A., the most influential opponent of sensible gun-control policies, will do as it says, but we have little faith that it will offer any substantial reforms. The association presents itself as a grass-roots organization, but it has become increasingly clear in recent years that it represents gun makers. Its chief aim has been to help their businesses by increasing the spread of firearms throughout American society.

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I suppose it’s understandable that last Friday’s tragedy would spark all sorts of of-the-wall responses in the national policy debate. People of all points of view are hurting and wanting to say something useful. It’s been almost like a national brainstorming session in which all kinds of ideas have been tossed around.

This morning’s editorial page in Raleigh’s News & Observer is a microcosm of our unruly discussion — with rational voices calling for modest efforts to regulate dangerous weapons and others grasping desperately for some other path that avoids this obvious solution.  Read More