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public opinion of several prominent immigration measures

Graphic from Jan 2013 polling by Gallup


Americans Widely Support Immigration Reform Proposals
Greatest support for employers' verifying new hires' legal status
NY Times:
House Republicans on Tuesday staked out what they cast as a middle-ground option in the debate over immigration, pushing an approach that could include legal residency but not a path to citizenship — as their Democratic counterparts favor — for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.

Republicans also signaled that they are open to the idea of breaking immigration legislation into several smaller bills, which would allow them to deal with the question of highly skilled workers, as well as a farmworker program, without addressing what Democrats and immigration advocates say is the larger issue of potential citizenship. Immigration advocates favor a comprehensive measure to enable them to use elements that have bipartisan backing to build support for broader legislation.

President Barack Obama appeared to bow to broad opposition to instituting a new Assault Weapons Ban Monday in a speech on his gun control plans in Minneapolis.
Addressing a law-enforcement-heavy crowd, Obama expressed optimism that a compromise can be reached to mandate universal background checks for gun sales, but tempered expectations for a new ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines, saying he just wants to see them come up for a vote.

"We don't have to agree on everything to agree it's time to do something," Obama said less than a month after he and Vice President Joe Biden announced their plans to address gun violence in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.

Sunlight Foundation:
As the Senate prepares to take up the first major gun control debate since last December's shooting massacre in Connecticut, a Sunlight Foundation analysis of the political pressures on 26 key senators paints a pessimistic picture for passage.
When you don't control both houses, you don't always get everything you want. But you get something.

More on important issues surrounding gun violence and some scholarly perspective on the events of 12/14 below the fold:

National Journal:

The White House still thinks it has the Senate votes to put Chuck Hagel in the top job at the Pentagon, but concedes it would be a narrowly won victory.

After a confirmation hearing last week that did nothing to help Hagel's candidacy, the Obama administration counts about 57 senators as supporting his nomination to lead the Defense Department. A handful more have said they would oppose a filibuster.

Hagel is continuing his Capitol Hill courtesy calls this week, scheduled to meet with roughly 20 senators, which would push his total to about 72, a senior administration official said.

And those meetings are said to have gone better than his public berating at the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"They have a very different tone than that hearing had," the official said, adding that the administration was "very confident" Hagel would clear the Senate.

Judith S. Palfrey, M.D., and Sean Palfrey, M.D./NEJM on pediatric gun deaths:
Since 1994, the [American Academy of Pediatrics] has conducted periodic member surveys to ascertain physicians' attitudes about gun safety and to see whether doctors are performing recommended screening and counseling. In both 2000 and 2008, approximately 70% of physicians reported that they “always or sometimes” asked whether there were guns in the home and recommended unloading and locking guns. In 2008, 50% of the doctors surveyed reported “always or sometimes recommending the removal of the guns from the house.” A recent AAP research analysis of these data show that doctors who live in states with high levels of gun ownership are just as likely as those in states with low levels to ask about guns in the home but are likely to counsel families about safe gun storage rather than removal.

In a randomized, controlled, cluster-design study by the Pediatric Research in Office Settings network, the intervention group that received specific gun-safety counseling from their doctors reported significantly higher rates of handgun removal or safe storage than did the control group. This study showed that families do follow through on pediatricians' recommendations about gun safety.

Despite this evidence, in 2011, Florida passed legislation, the Firearms Owners' Privacy Act, making it illegal for a doctor to conduct preventive screening by asking families about guns in the home — essentially “gagging” health care providers. Under the aegis of the Second Amendment, the First Amendment rights and the Hippocratic responsibilities of physicians were challenged. In response, the AAP's Florida chapter brought suit, and in June 2012, Miami-based U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke issued a permanent injunction banning the state from enforcing the law. Governor Rick Scott has appealed the ruling, and similar bills have been introduced in three additional states.

Dr Judith S. Palfrey is past president of the AAP; I interviewed her about Obamacare in 2009 here.

John T. Walkup, M.D., and David H. Rubin, M.D./NEJM on mental health and violence:

The facts about the risk of violence in the mentally ill are relatively straightforward. The vast majority of people with psychiatric disorders are not violent, and the mentally ill do not commit a substantial proportion of violent crimes in the United States. When violence is committed by a mentally ill person, it usually occurs in reaction to an interpersonal provocation and is often charged with emotion. Only rarely do mentally ill people engage in dispassionate, planned, predatory violence toward others. In school shootings, there has been evidence of both a strong emotional component — feelings of anger and alienation — and extended and detailed planning that went undetected or unaddressed.

Even if early signs were noticed, a mentally ill, withdrawn, isolated young man and his family would face barriers to full engagement in psychiatric treatment. Severely mentally ill people, especially if they are angry and alienated, do not often voluntarily seek treatment, and even those who do may not be fully engaged or cooperative. Young adults 18 years of age or older must consent to treatment; their families, as concerned as they may be, aren't necessarily able to bring them to a care provider and can't force them to continue receiving treatment. Moreover, our standards for confidentiality preclude involvement of concerned parents unless it has been specifically authorized by the young person. Also, pursuing care for individuals at risk has become more difficult. Mental health professionals have capitulated to a higher threshold for hospitalization, in part because of standards dictated by insurers; clinicians may also second-guess or fear civil commitment proceedings and so fail to advocate for higher levels of care.

Important perspective on the mental health aspect of gun violence.

National Journal on how bad this recession has been:

how the recession took a bite out of potential GDP
The American economy is about halfway through a lost decade of economic potential, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's latest projections.

The nation's economic output won't reach its potential level until 2017, nearly a decade after the recession started in December 2007, according to the 10-year outlook CBO released on Tuesday afternoon.

Spending cuts slated for March 1 and new upper-income tax hikes will hold back growth this year, but those same policies will help right the nation's economic ship in the medium- to long-term.

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