2008 - %3, July

Justice Scalia Wants You to Have Every Opportunity to Off Yourself

| Tue Jul. 1, 2008 11:53 AM EDT

Michelle Cottle notes some statistics on gun deaths that I am genuinely surprised by. This probably isn't what the Supreme Court had in mind when it struck down DC's handgun ban:

Suicides accounted for 55 percent of the nation's nearly 31,000 firearm deaths in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There was nothing unique about that year — gun-related suicides have outnumbered firearm homicides and accidents for 20 of the last 25 years. In 2005, homicides accounted for 40 percent of gun deaths. Accidents accounted for 3 percent. The remaining 2 percent included legal killings, such as when police do the shooting, and cases that involve undetermined intent.
Public-health researchers have concluded that in homes where guns are present, the likelihood that someone in the home will die from suicide or homicide is much greater.

Update: Some further thinking and research on this. Scalia argued in the ruling overturning the DC handgun ban that individuals essentially have a right to keep a gun by their beds, which they can use to scare away assailants in the middle of the night. As Arthur Kellermann wrote in the Post over the weekend, "Statistically speaking, these rare success stories are dwarfed by tragedies." Kellermann pointed to a study that found guns in the home were 12 times as likely to be involved in the death or injury of a member of the household than in the fending off of a masked intruder.

And one need only consult the Brady Campaign to find further horrifying statistics. The risk of homicide in the home is three times greater in households with guns. Due to firearm suicides, there are more than twice as many suicide victims in states with high household firearm ownership. See more here.

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Where's the Beef on Obama's New Faith-Based Initiative Plan?

| Tue Jul. 1, 2008 11:24 AM EDT

Barack Obama is unveiling a plan to reform and invigorate President Bush's program of faith-based initiatives. In a speech today dedicated to the topic, Obama is expected to point to his own religious background as motivation for the new policy:

"I came to see faith as being both a personal commitment to Christ and a commitment to my community; that while I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn't be fulfilling God's will unless I went out and did the Lord's work."

The plan centers around an office Obama would establish called the President's Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. According to a factsheet provided by the campaign, the primary goals of the council are relatively simple:

Wesley Clark Clarifies

| Tue Jul. 1, 2008 10:13 AM EDT

Or, as he puts it, reiterates. Here's his statement responding to the controversy created by his comments over the weekend.

I have made comments in the past about John McCain's service and I want to reiterate them in order be crystal clear. As I have said before I honor John McCain's service as a prisoner of war and a Vietnam Veteran. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. I would never dishonor the service of someone who chose to wear the uniform for our nation.
John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country — but it doesn't include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions. And in this area his judgment has been flawed — he not only supported going into a war we didn't have to fight in Iraq, but has time and again undervalued other, non-military elements of national power that must be used effectively to protect America. But as an American and former military officer I will not back down if I believe someone doesn't have sound judgment when it comes to our nation's most critical issues.

In short, he's not shutting up. I know I was critical of Clark yesterday, but I'll admit, it is a pleasant (and obviously foreign) experience to watch a Democrat not backing down on national security.