Century Marks

Century Marks

Case for repeal

The editors of the Jesuit magazine America (February 25) have called for the United States to repeal the Second Amendment. The editors agree with the 2008 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that the amendment impedes the government in controlling the possession and use of firearms. Yet empirical evidence shows, they say, that a reduction in the number of guns reduces the number of deaths. The America editors realize it wouldn’t be easy to repeal an amendment that has become ingrained in American life, but they point to the example of the 21st Amendment repealing the 18th, which prohibited alcoholic beverages.

Choosing ignorance

Over the past 20 years the number of deaths from motor vehicle crashes has dropped by 31 percent, deaths from fire by 38 percent and deaths from drowning by 52 percent. These advances came as a result of interventions based on research.  In 1996, pro-gun members of Congress were able to sharply reduce the funding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received for research on injury and death from firearms. Two years later, Congress curtailed research on the subject at all agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Insti­tutes of Health. Since 1997 at least 470,000 people in the United States have died from gunshot wounds, including more than 165,000 who were victims of homicide (JAMA, February 13).

Bad math

James Wagner, president of Emory University,  created a fire­storm of protest when he suggested in Emory Magazine that the three-fifths compromise in the U.S. Constitu­tion is a model for resolving disagreements and working for the common good in a university. The three-fifths compromise was worked out between northern and slaveholding southern states as way to apportion seats in the House of Representatives. Three-fifths of a state’s  slave population was counted for purposes of representing a state’s population. Wagner subsequently issued an apology, saying he should have said that slavery is repulsive and inhuman (InsideHigherEd.com, February 13).

Not an issue

Except for white evangelical Protestants, Americans generally don’t see a couple’s differing religious beliefs as a significant stumbling block for a relationship or marriage, according to a study by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service. The bigger problem is an unsatisfying sex life. Of those surveyed, 54 percent said an unsatisfying sex life is a major problem for a relationship or marriage, while only 29 percent cited a couple’s differing religious beliefs as a major factor. Only among white evangelicals did a majority (56 percent) see religious difference as a major obstacle. (Fifty-seven percent of white evangelicals agreed that a bad sex life is a major problem.) Only 19 percent of Catholics consider differing religious beliefs a big concern for a couple (RNS).

Everyday religion

Ohio’s John Kasich is one of several Republi­can governors who have agreed to the expansion of Medicaid as called for under Obamacare. Kasich cites Chris­tian belief as a reason for not leaving the weak and vulnerable behind. The Bible runs his life “not just on Sunday, but just about every day,” he said in his annual State of the State address. “And I’ve got to tell you, I can’t look at the disabled, I can’t look at the poor, I can’t look at the mentally ill, I can’t look at the addicted and think we ought to ignore them,” he said. Kasich was raised Catholic and worships regularly in an Anglican church (AP).