Costas exploits Belcher tragedy to promote gun control agenda

Bob Costas uses Jovan Belcher's murder-suicide to shame then preach virtues of disarmament. He should have stuck with sportscasting. 
Photo: Bob Costas

DALLAS, 3 December, 2012 – Sportscaster Bob Costas lectured American audiences on the tragic consequences of firearm ownership Sunday. During the half-time portion of the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles game, Costas blamed America’s “gun culture” for the tragic murder-suicide by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher.

Quoting journalist Jason Whitlock, Costas admonished his captive audience for any shallow introspection of Belcher’s violence, alleging a deeper issue – the lack of firearm criminalization – is ultimately to blame.

“Well, you knew it was coming. In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again: ‘Something like this really puts it all in perspective.’ Well, if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our game,” Costas said.

“Please, those who need tragedies to continually re-calibrate their sense of proportion about sports will seem to have little hope about achieving perspective. You want some actual perspective on this? Well, a bit of it comes from a Kansas City-based writer — Jason Whitlock — with whom I don’t always agree, but who today said it so well that we may as well just quote or paraphrase from the end of his article.”

Costas quoted Whitlock’s article verbatim:

“‘Our current gun culture ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy. And more convenience store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it. In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed. Who knows?  But here is what I believe — if Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Cassandra Perkins would both be alive today.’”

Well, Americans knew it was coming. In the absence of immediate details to exhaustively analyze, media elitists never squander tragic opportunities to promote the virtues of gun control. After any high-profile incident of firearm violence, pundits loftily fault the instrument instead of the criminal.

In the case of Belcher, the football star reportedly murdered his 22-year old girlfriend Kasandra Perkins after a heated argument Saturday. Following the murder, Belcher drove to Arrowhead Stadium and conversed with general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel. He expressed gratitude to the organization before committing suicide in the presence of his colleagues.

As reported, Belcher suffered from football-related head injuries, alcohol and pain-killer addiction, and his relationship with Perkins was increasingly volatile. Clearly, Belcher’s instability caused Perkins’ senseless murder, the orphaning of a newborn and a gruesome suicide that will haunt his colleagues. Though Belcher was disturbed and capable of harming Perkins without firearms, these details were omitted.

Costas’ sermon was not well received. If social media responses are indicative, arrogant gun control lectures advance resentment from viewers irritated by parent-like scoldings after every gun-related catastrophe. The American people are not children and firearms are not toys to be taken away from law-abiding adults when criminals commit violence. The right to self-protection is inalienable and sacred.

Whitlock and Costas are entitled to their beliefs that the possession of handguns creates rabid criminals of otherwise peaceful angels, but their righteous opinions are borne of an idyllic vision incompatible with factual reality. They believe that if America criminalizes firearms, crime will drop and fatal tragedies will be prevented. Utopia is just one more legislative decision away.

This elementary reasoning advances a timelessly flawed and morally pious argument, but fails to anticipate neither the unintended consequences of banning handguns nor the reality of human nature. Criminals without fear of resistance commit more violence against helpless victims.

Chicago and Washington D.C. are examples of these romantic opinions in action. After the Supreme Court struck their handgun bans, D.C lifted firearm restrictions, and as a result, crime plummeted once self-protection rights were restored. The city now has record gun ownership and more peaceful streets. Chicago’s politicians praise their austere gun-control laws, which criminalize self-protection for most residents. More Americans were killed there than in Kabul, Afghanistan this year.

Handgun bans fail to reduce violence abroad, too. Since their ban, England’s violence has skyrocketed and criminal gun use has doubled. Britain has the highest crime in Europe, more so than the United States or South Africa. Scotland is now the most violent country in the world. In contrast, Switzerland has the highest firearm ownership rate per capita in Europe. Their homicide rate is 1.2 per 100,000.

With 315 million citizens and 90 out of 100 with guns, America should be the most violent country in the world, but the top 10 nations for homicide do not include the U.S., where crime is currently at an historic low and dropping. Firearms are used self-defensively 2.5 million times annually, or about 6,850 daily. Each year, guns protect citizens 80 times more against violence than they take a life. One-third of murders are committed without a firearm.

For media millionaires, perhaps it is difficult to imagine the self-protection needs of the average American not comforted by wealth’s insulation. While Mr. Costas enjoys the luxury of gated communities and paid personal protection should he require it, most Americans are not so fortunate.

Most must live with the harsh reality that guns do exist, and are often in the hands of criminals. Many understand that violence is control and that control boils down to force. Millions that own a firearm for protection grasp that criminals will always obtain force to exert their will upon the innocent, and that removing the innocent’s ability to self-protect enables the criminal. The majority of Americans have no desire to criminalize firearms or submit to the vicious whims of perpetrators.

There is nothing political or philosophical about the tragic events in Kansas City; there are no excuses or justifications for Belcher’s actions. Instead of shaming Americans for personal firearm ownership, perhaps Costas’ microphone could have highlighted the prevalence of sports-related head injuries and substance abuse among footballers.

Perhaps the American Neurological Association, which studies prevention, treatment and therapeutic methods for the injured, could have benefitted from such conscientious passion. Instead of preaching the gun-control doctrine, Costas could have stuck to what he knows: sports. 


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Tiffany Madison

Tiffany is a writer and veteran's advocate. Her column focuses on civil liberties, veteran's issues and current events. You can follow her on Twitter @tiffanymadisonFacebook or her website.

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