National Briefs: Gun makers thrive in '12

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WASHINGTON -- U.S. gun makers led by Sturm Ruger & Co. and Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. churned out a record number of firearms in 2012, government data show, continuing a trend of robust production during Democratic presidencies.

More than 8.57 million guns were produced in 2012, up 31 percent from 6.54 million in 2011, according to data released this week by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has been tracking the statistics since 1986.

Almost as many guns -- 26.1 million -- were produced during Democrat Barack Obama's first term as president as during the entire eight-year presidency of his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, the ATF data show.

Wrongful conviction accord

NEW YORK -- A man who was framed by a rogue detective and served 23 years in prison for a murder he did not commit will receive $6.4 million from the New York City in a settlement that came before a civil rights lawsuit was even filed, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday.

A $150 million claim filed last year by the man, David Ranta, was settled by the city comptroller's office without ever involving the city's legal department.

Revenue from weed sales

DENVER -- For Colorado's new flock of recreational marijuana growers and sellers, Thursday was Tax Day -- their first deadline to hand over the taxes they had collected during their inaugural month of sales.

New budget numbers predicted that those marijuana taxes could add more than $100 million a year to state coffers, far more than earlier estimates.

A budget proposal from Gov. John W. Hickenlooper estimated that the state's marijuana industry could reach $1 billion in sales in the next fiscal year, with recreational sales making up about $610 million of that business.

Missouri school employee held in kidnapping

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A longtime employee of Springfield's public school system is scheduled to make his first court appearance today in the kidnapping and shooting death of a 10-year-old girl.

The body of Hailey Owens was found Wednesday stuffed in two trash bags inside plastic storage containers in the basement of the home of Craig Michael Wood, 45, a football coach at a middle school who also worked as a substitute teacher. The girl went missing Tuesday, less than two blocks from her Springfield home as she walked back from her best friend's home.

Forklift vs. vending machine

MILFORD, Iowa -- An Iowa man has lost his job and unemployment benefits for using a forklift to get a candy bar from a malfunctioning vending machine, state records say.

According to state unemployment records released last month, Robert McKevitt, 27, of Spirit Lake, was working at Polaris Industries' warehouse in Milford when the incident occurred last fall.

Also in the nation ...

A Northern California convenience store that sold the sole winning ticket to the $425 million Powerball jackpot received a $1 million check Thursday, as state lottery officials waited for the winner of the one of the largest jackpots in U.S. history to come forward. ... The average age of farmers in America has increased to 58.3 years while the number of farms declined by 4.3 percent to 2.11 million, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Thursday. ... The Arizona Legislature gave final approval Thursday to legislation that allows business owners asserting their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays and others, drawing backlash from Democrats who called the proposal "state-sanctioned discrimination" and an embarrassment.


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