Bob Costas is taking some heat for these comments he made during halftime on Sunday Night Football.
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.
In the coming days, Belcher’s actions will be analyzed through the lens of concussions and head injuries. Who knows? Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend. What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.
That is the message I wish Chiefs players, professional athletes and all of us would focus on Sunday and moving forward. 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.
Political opportunists on the right are running around with their hair on fire screaming about Costas using his platform to push a political agenda, as if there is nothing political about the military flyovers and the "Pledge Allegiance to the Flag" that precedes every single sporting event. Unfortunately, what I haven't seen anybody do is challenge the flawed logic employed by Jason Whitlock and shared by Bob Costas. What does he mean by our "gun culture"? The right to bear arms is enshrined in our Bill of Rights, so guns are every bit as part of our culture as freedom of speech.
I grew up in a region of the country where hunting is very popular. On the first day of hunting season, there were almost no guys at school (just the gays, the geeks, and the preps). In some areas, school was cancelled on the first day of hunting season. Where I grew up, it seemed like everybody owned guns, but gun violence was practically non-existent. When I hear the term "gun culture," I think of our neighbor delivering venison. I think of the cars parked by highway near the popular hunting grounds. I think of the guys at school wearing their camouflage clothes to school.
What Jason Whitlock and Bob Costas refer to as a "gun culture" would more accurately be called a "culture of violence". We should be horrified that man killed his wife and committed suicide. We should be horrified that a teenager was killed for playing loud music in a parking lot. Guns did not kill those people. Kasandra Perkins was a victim of domestic violence. Every day, more than three women are killed during acts of domestic violence. Each year, domestic violence costs our country $5.8 billion dollars in health care spending, lost wages, and other costs. Will a ban on handguns end domestic violence? A ban on handguns certainly would not have prevented a murder-suicide in my hometown, where a man took the life of his wife and stepson.
Whitlock and Costas also raised the case of 17-year old Jordan Davis, who was killed by a gun-weilding lunatic angry about the loud music coming from his car. If handguns were banned, might Jordan Davis be alive today? Perhaps, but what would prevented Michael Dunn from owning an illegal handgun, or using a shotgun? Jordan Davis died as a result of a gunshot wound, but he was a victim of a culture that places less value on the lives of young black men than others. Jordan Davis was a victim of modern American racism. Blaming his murder on a handgun excuses the culture that devalued his very existence.
Let's have a conversation about violence in our culture. But limiting our conversation to guns and who says what during Sunday Night Football doesn't get at the problem. It allows it to flourish.