Bob Costas on Gun Control
Bob Costas stared at the camera with a steely-eyed glare, and then used the entire ninety second halftime segment of last night’s Cowboys vs. Eagles game to argue in favor of stricter gun control laws in the wake of Kansas Chief Linebacker Jovan Belcher’s murder suicide. Costas paraphrased and quoted from a piece by Fox Sports Columnist Jason Whitlock:
How many young people have to die senselessly? How many lives have to be ruined before we realize the right to bear arms doesn’t protect us from a government equipped with stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons?
Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.”
Costas went on to say that has Belcher not possessed a gun, both he and Kasandra Perkins, the mother of their three-month old daughter would be alive today.
At this moment, I shrugged and turned off the television. The last thing I want to think about while I’m relaxing on a Sunday night is gun control and the Second Amendment. For me, football and politics should not mix unless the issue, like regulation of performance enhancing drugs, is germane to football. Costas’s rant felt like a low blow, an abuse of his invitation into my cozy family room, and like all guests who overstay their welcome, I showed him the door.
And yet . . . his words remain with me. I am angry as hell that another woman has died at the hand of an abusive man. It sickens and infuriates me that because he made a decision to murder a woman in cold blood, a little girl, no doubt once much loved, now faces an uncertain and tricky future. It’s a tragedy and my prayers go out to that little girl and to the family of the deceased.
My anger, however, is centered on the perpetrator. No one forced Belcher to murder his girlfriend. Nothing excuses his behavior. Nothing, and I mean nothing, mitigates his dastardly deed.
It is often said that guns kill people. Having taken a self-defense training course, and having learned more about handguns than I ever thought possible, I think this is overly simplistic. I can say for sure that in order for guns to kill people, a finger must pull that trigger.
While I appreciate and respect those who argue that the proliferation of guns increases the incidence of crimes involving guns, I’ve heard from police officers that criminals will always be able to obtain guns, lawfully or not. As the female police officer who trained us opined, “I want for as many good citizens as possible to arm themselves in a responsible way, to learn how to use those firearms responsibly, and to assist us in making the world a safer place from the criminals.”
This police officer went on to tell us some scary stories about criminals and would-be extreme right-wing members of local militias. “Please,” she added, “We need all the help we can get from the good citizens of the world. We’re fighting the good fight, but it’s dangerous out there.”
Her words chilled me a bit. And handling the pistol frightened me. She warned us, over and over again, to be careful, and to realize that a single mistake could result in serious injury or death. I felt empowered but also sobered after I fired the Glock on the firing range. And it’s unlikely that I’d ever own a handgun.
But I like being able to buy a firearm should I judge it in my best interests to own one. For sure, there are and should be some limits on the application of the Second Amendment to our modern life. I’m no firearm zealot. I believe a firearm can be both a tool and a weapon, and that in the wrong hands, a firearm can do much harm to the innocent.
Perhaps Costas is right. Perhaps we need to better enforce the current gun control laws. Perhaps Belcher should not have owned firearms. Or perhaps Belcher is yet another victim of the epidemic of concussions and perhaps the rash of violent acts by past or current football players is connected to this epidemic. Perhaps Belcher was using performance-enhancing drugs that affected his personality or made him mentally ill. Perhaps.
You see, we don’t have the answers, but the best way to find answers is to pursue them with clear minds and calm discernment. Costas’ rant from the bully pulpit struck me as ill-timed and misguided. Rather than solve a problem or encourage reasoned debate, he inflamed hearts and incited passions with his self-righteous anger.
My prayers go out to the family the Belcher and Perkins families, respectively. May Kasandra rest in peace, and may Jovan find in dying the peace that so tragically eluded him.
I’d love to hear your views on this issue. Please keep it civil and respectful.
My abusive ex-husband placed a gun to my head more than once. The day I escaped him I was slated to die, along with my 7 children. My friend manages a canine search and rescue team and when my ex cut her out of my life because she was an ‘environmentalist’ she feared that the next time she saw me was when her dogs were brought to my property to find my decaying body. If he hadn’t had a gun to do it, he would have used a knife — or a baseball bat, duct tape, and gasoline. I’m not afraid of guns, but I’m terrified of a firearm in the hands of my ex-husband, the sociopath. Thankfully our county prosecutor made sure that he will spend so many years in prison that he’ll be an old man when he breathes the air of freedom once again.
That being said, I don’t believe that stricter gun control laws are the answer. Battered spouses are often blamed instead of given the help they need. I used to call the police — often — but when they arrived, even though they saw I was injured or the house was torn apart from his rages, they would tell me I provoked it, I contributed to the argument, and there was no PROOF that it wasn’t I who had thrown and broken things. They even told me that if I called them again they would arrest ME. I stopped calling after that because I was terrified that if they arrested me he would do something terrible to my kids while I was in jail since that was what he threatened to do. It’s a horrible cycle — and when you are in it, it looks as if there is NO way out.
My prayers to the families — I grieve for the baby and the life she will have to face without her mother. Thank you, El, for bringing up a very delicate subject. We NEED to be able to discuss it without all the inflammation and anger that Mr. Costas presented. We need to let our passions fuel us and spur us on to making change, but it needs to be focused in the proper direction.
My dear friend, I am so sorry for the hell that your ex put you through, and I am outraged that the police (YET AGAIN) blamed the victim. It saddens me that all too often the legal system is not a just one, and that the officers supposed to protect the innocent do next to nothing.
Far too many of my friends have been in the same spot, and like you said, it’s a horrible cycle with no obvious way out. I am gratified you did make it out, and that the rat bastard has been put away for a long time.
And a loud amen to the need to discuss this without inflammatory words and incitement to anger!!
Much peace and love to you!!
Hey–can I quote you for an article I’m writing?
Yes you may
The argument the announcer desperately tries to make is that if he hadn’t owned a gun she wouldn’t be dead? B.S. Cuz it’s hard for him to reach for a knife our do it with his own hands? Maybe if she’d had a gun only he’d be dead. This is as nonsensical as saying we should ban cars because they kill ppl–more often than guns by the way. Freedom is dangerous, but I’ll take dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery any day.
I respect a person’s right not to own a gun, whatever the reason, and they need to respect my right to own one–a right guaranteed by the constitution. Besides, making things illegal doesn’t prevent them from happening. Murder is illegal, but people still do it. Don’t punish the law abiding citizens for the actions of the criminals. His argument is illogical.
I love your arguments up above, Jae, and I love your spirit!! Amen, sister!
You are so brave to go here on your blog. I think Bob Costas is pretty brave. I am in favor of gun control because they scare the bejesus out of me. Also, a toxic family member of mine is super into the NRA, so my reaction is about my relationship with him. I should probably shut up before I get on a rant, but I am proud of you for opening this dialogue.
Giggle, my friend. The last time I went here on my blog, I got excoriated. Now, as far as your situation, I hear ya. I am not comfortable with the loud NRA folks–no more than I enjoy listening to my extreme right-wing Evangelical Christian brethren condemn all gays to hell fires (nervous giggle). You’re welcome to keep on talking here–I’m listening. And I’m sorry about that toxic family member. They should all be thrown off the island!
I agree with Bob Costas wholeheartedly, but I do get your point about the timing and intrusiveness of his sermon.
I believe in the right to bear arms. But I also believe that responsibility is very much like the right to own and drive a car. There are things that must be done — inspections, registration, testing to ensure the owner/user is knowledgeable of the hazards and can operate it safely. That is common sense.
But our gun laws are just the opposite. I can go out and buy lots of them — today. Without an evaluation of my psychiatric history (am I a past violent offender? Guess!). There are too few limits on types of guns and the ammunition that can be purchased. The guy who shot up the theater in Aurora had 3,000 rounds — who needs 3,000 bullets? And it was purchased on the internet.
The statistics on death with firearms are not in favor of the good guy who keeps a gun for protection. Personal handguns are more likely to result in a suicide or an accidental death/injury than in protecting one’s property. The stats are there in plain black and white. If you have children in your home, you’re likely to keep your gun locked up — will a home intruder give you time to unlock the cabinet, find the bullets and fire?
Also, it is harder to get away from a gun. Suicides using guns are successful 95% of the time — because if you point a gun at your head and pull the trigger you will die.
It is high time for a sensible debate on the issue. There are folks on my side who want to ban all guns, which, of course, will never happen (and isn’t even really necessary.) But folks on the other side, are far more unreasonable, in my opinion. The 2nd Amendment doesn’t give everybody the right to semi-automatic weapons or to 3,000 rounds.
Reasonable gun laws should be part of a reasonable society. Like the laws every other developed country has on their books.
That is incredibly well-said, Elyse. And you’re right: no one needs 3,000 rounds (gah!); it’s so hard to access a gun that is properly locked away (I will not own one–cannot even imagine what I would do if one of my kids hurt themselves with one, and like you said, it’s so hard to get to them quickly when you need them); it’s hard to get away from a gun; and we need reasonable gun laws. The Second Amendment does not say we can own any guns without limits. The “well-regulated militia” clause provides limits.
And yes, we need a sensible dialogue–amen to that!
The only thing that scares me about more gun regulations is the idea that I could end up never being able to buy one while all the criminals have them illegally. I have never fired a gun, don’t ever plan to, but I’m going to have to agree with Jae on this one. People are going to find a way to break the law. I should have the right to defend myself, if necessary.
For me, the gun issue is a lot like the drug issue. When I think about how many tax dollars are going towards keeping drug traffickers in prison I become worse than an enraged bull. Make drugs legal already. People who want to do drugs will do them whether they are legal or not. People who don’t want to won’t whether they’re legal or not. Of course, in the case of drug use, there is no harm to another (like gun use). Still…
So true, my friend, as far as the concept that gun control laws threaten to keep guns out of hands of the responsible citizens. And I hear ya re the drug issue. I too favor legalization, for so many reasons (but no longer because I’d like to use them). Thank you so much for your thoughtful remarks!
Brave woman you are, El. I decided to stay away from this topic on my blog. It’s tragic and frustrating. I had some other things to say but I think Elyse (above) covered them all quite nicely 🙂
But I wanted to add I grew up the daughter of a police officer. We had guns in the house. I shot my first gun at the firing range when I was still quite young. I used to load my fathers clip before he headed to work. I had respect for the weapon. The thing I remember most about guns were my father’s words–“You never fire a gun to frighten or maim. You shoot with the intent to kill or you don’t shoot.” I’m not sure we need an entire untrained and unvetted population walking around with a gun in their back pocket easily accessible for protection, intimidation, murder, or a moment of misguided passion and anger. Self-preservation is a right, but I think that can be accomplished without arming the population. FWIW
Brave crazy woman I am, LOL! Great response Kelly!
Just so you know, this was just a part of what I wrote. I went on to address domestic violence. Why aren’t more people talking about it? That’s what I wish Costas has spoken about (if he had to speak about anything non-football related).
I love my Sunday football but I had to stop watching this week because of all the ‘Pray for Jovan Belcher’ signs. Sure, pray for him if that’s your thing, but at least have the courtesy to mention the woman he murdered. Kasandra Perkins was a victim of a horrible crime no matter how you slice it.
I’m glad you wrote this piece.
I felt exactly the same way. It really pisses me off that folks are feeling bad for a murderer. He killed an innocent woman and left an infant motherless. If anyone is praying, I’d prefer they pray for the infant and for the family of Kasandra.
For me, gun control is something I favor . . . I’m as usual a moderate. But on the issue of domestic violence, I am no moderate. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
Bob Costas was wrong to use the platform he was given. But Jason Whitlock’s article isn’t wrong, our love of guns is problematic. A 22 year-old women, a mother is dead, murdered. The Kansas City Chiefs memorialized her murderer. Another 17 year old child is dead in Florida, his murderer is claiming “Stand your Ground”, because he was scared of unarmed teenagers playing loud music. In Pennsylvania a man walked into a church on Sunday morning and shot his wife to death while she was playing the organ. Those are just three off the top of my head.
The Second Amendment was written by really smart men. They could not predict the future. They certainly did not intend for us to be killing each other over loud music, the color of our skin or presumed infidelity 200 years later. I have a very difficult time wrapping my head around the idea we live in a civil society, yet still need conceal carry permits for protection and need these side arms as if this were the Old West and each of us were Marshal Dillon protecting Miss Kitty from the unkempt masses. No, guns don’t kill people the truth of it is people with guns kill people. Guns are tools of death. They have only one purpose, to kill. Not to maim, not to injure; to kill, to end life.
I won’t argue whether we should take guns away. While I might believe strongly most people are not highly evolved enough to be allowed tools that take life, this isn’t my call to make. I will however argue we need stronger restrictions. There needs to be national registration. There needs to be limitations on ammunition. There needs to be waiting periods. There needs to be legitimate reasons for Conceal Carry Permits, no not every Tom, Dick and Jane needs one just because they think they will save the day next time. Frankly their right to stroke their ego with a big tool of death ends at my right to be safe on the streets and I am not safe while they are on it with their ego and their gun. There needs to be stronger penalties for those caught breaking the law with guns. They need to shut down the gun shows and private sales.
Just to put things in perspective (these numbers are old).
Death by Suicide (gun only) 18,735 (highest age group 45-54, but all age groups starting at 14 are represented)
Death by Assault (gun only) 11,493 (highest representation in 15-24, but all groups have a strong showing)
This is from the 2009 CDC, the latest published numbers (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr60/nvsr60_03.pdf) what it says overall is murder per 100,000 is 3.7
Just to put that in perspective compared to other G12 members: Australia .10, Belgium .44, Canada .50, France .23, Germany .20, Italy .41, Japan .00, Netherlands .20, Spain .20, Sweden .19, Switzerland .52, UK .03
As I said, I am not suggesting we take peoples guns. I am only suggesting we Regulate. I am only suggesting we look around and realize the world has moved forward and perhaps if we consider changing our society and our responses, perhaps our society will change accordingly.
Great, great points, all, Val!! I appreciate seeing all of those statistics and well-marshaled, eye-opening facts. I hope you know that I’m a moderate on the issue of gun control and gun ownership. I fully agree that gun sales should be regulated–and more tightly than they are now. And shoot, the Second Amendment provides the framework for such regulation. By containing the phrase, “Well-regulated militia,” it certainly suggests that there should be limits on gun sales.
Indeed, as I mentioned to Kelly above, the rest of my article on Bob Costas goes to the issue of domestic violence. Why aren’t we freakin’ talking about THAT?!!! This article is for The Voice Magazine, and it’s what really has me going, so to speak. Always a joy talking with you!
Surprisingly El, though I have some personal issues around guns and gun violence I remain pretty moderate. Except for the issue of Conceal Carry.
Not a surprise at all, my friend!
I’m firmly in the corner that people kill people. Be it a mishandled car or fire arm, knife or bare hands, a person makes the decision to take another person’s life. At that point the weapon chosen, in my opinion, isn’t as terrifying a problem as the person who thinks ending a life is acceptable. This story is absolutely tragic, for that poor woman, for their poor child, for both families and those who knew them. I definitely think turning it into a gun control issue is missing the point.
Oh, amen Tori! And for me, the real tragedy is the inability of our society to stem domestic violence, and the death of Kasandra Perkins. The issue of gun control, to me, takes away from the personal tragedy and the plight of abused women.
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