This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.

Jan. 15

Gun-control advocates are hopping mad about the National Rifle Association's new "Practice Range" target-shooting app now on sale in Apple's iTunes store.

The free app became available this weekend, a month after the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre renewed the national debate on gun control and gun violence -- and after NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre blamed violent video games for helping to create a culture of violence that's to blame for such events.

The Courage Campaign, one of many liberal groups decrying the app, has started an online petition urging Apple CEO Tim Cook to dump the app from the store.

"This is a classic example of everything that is wrong with the NRA. Instead of coming to the table with constructive ideas to reduce gun violence, the NRA is instead developing a video game that glorifies guns and gun violence," Courage Campaign online programs director Adam Bink said in a news release. "It is yet another shameful example, in a long list of shameful examples, of the destructive role the NRA plays in reducing gun violence and making our schools, communities and streets safer. We are calling on Apple to reject this app. It has no business being in the hands of kids across this country."


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ABC News reports the app was released Sunday for children ages 4 and up, but its description was updated today to rate it for ages 12 and up.

I've downloaded the app to my iPhone; it appears to have indoor range, outdoor range and skeet shoot options but none in which you're shooting at anything alive. It allows you to choose from among several different kinds of weapons, although some remain locked unless you buy the option for 99 cents.

Jan. 16

You might be getting a call soon from the state Franchise Tax Board if you didn't file a state income tax return for 2011.

The board is contacting more than 1 million Californians who didn't meet the Oct. 15, 2012, deadline. It's comparing records of filed tax returns with more than 400 million income records it receives each year from third parties to find those who earned California income but didn't file a return. The tax board gets income information from the IRS, banks, employers, state departments and other sources, and also uses occupational licenses and mortgage interest payment information to detect others who may also have a requirement to file a state tax return.

Around here, the tax board is looking up 27,751 people in Alameda County; 19,466 in Contra Costa County; 10,855 in San Mateo County; 25,435 in Santa Clara County, and 3,876 in Santa Cruz County. Last year, the board collected more than $714 million statewide through these efforts.

Those contacted have 30 days to file a state tax return or show why one is not due. When a required return is not filed, the tax board issues a tax assessment using income records to estimate the amount of state tax due; that assessment includes interest, fees and penalties that can total up to 50 percent.