December 13, 2012

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker had not had a gun? As national sportscaster Bob Costas so eloquently told the viewers of NBC's Sunday Night Football at halftime using the words of Kansas City Star columnist Jason Whitlock "If he didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would still be alive today."

If you missed the news, Jevon Belcher allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend, the mother of his three-month old daughter. He then went to Arrowhead Stadium, spoke with Chiefs' coaches and officials before committing suicide, as law enforcement arrived to arrest him for the murder.

While Costas tried to disguise his message of gun control behind smoke screens of sports cliches and a critique of the "gun culture" we live in where confrontations erupt into storms of bullets, it still seemed like an odd place for an antigun opinion piece.

Regardless of if it was inappropriate or not, more important might be the question, was it accurate?

Costas stated that handguns do not enhance our safety. Yet he offered nothing to support his opinion, tossing it out as if it were fact, minus any evidence. Come on Man! In this world of Google, it only takes a few seconds to find a stat to support your argument.

I did. According to the National Self Defense Survey conducted by Florida State University criminologists in 1994, the rate of Defensive Gun Uses can be projected nationwide to approximately 2.5 million per year or once every 13 seconds. That seems to contradict the statement by Mr. Costas.

I see that logic was not atop his mind as he regurgitated his fellow journalist's opinion. Otherwise, Costas maybe would have considered the question of self defense for Ms. Perkins. What if she would have had a gun? It might have at least leveled the playing field for the woman who was being threatened by an NFL linebacker and given her a chance to save her own life.

Obviously, domestic disputes are no arena for a handgun. Still one would again argue the logic of Costas, when he assigns the blame for the death of Perkins to the gun and not to her murderer.

According to Domestic Violence Resource Center, as many as 2.2 million people call a domestic violence hotline in a year. According to the Bureau of Justice, in 2000 roughly 1,800 women and men were killed in incidents of domestic violence. According to a Gallop poll in 2011, 47% of Americans self reported gun ownership.

Math wasn't my best subject, but I would question if there are 2 million or more domestic disputes a year that were violent enough to call a hotline, and roughly half of those people own guns, shouldn't there be a whole lot more homicides if it truly is the gun's fault?

Seems like 998,000 people were rational enough to refrain from pulling a trigger to needlessly take another person's life in a fit of passion.

But according to Costas, we need to blame guns, and the gun culture, and appeared to be just one more public spokesperson for gun control.

What he fails to address is, by outlawing handguns, you deny an unalienable right of individuals to defend themselves.

According to the FBI, in 2011 there were 14,612 murders in 2011, 83,425 forcible rapes and more than 750,000 aggravated assaults. Do these victims not deserve the right to try to protect themselves if they so chose to own a handgun?

The same FBI report noted that violent crime numbers have decreased more than 20% in the past decade, and murder numbers are down as much as 10%. The Gallop poll cited above, also noted that gun ownership numbers have increased during this same timeframe.

That seems to defy the logic that the guns are the cause of violence.

Jevon Belcher murdered the mother of his child. He pulled the trigger, just the same as he could have chosen to throw the punch, swing the knife or deliver the push off the balcony.

Funny that Costas chose to attack guns, when far more people die from alcohol every year. The World Health Organization blames 4% of deaths on alcohol, far more than violence totals.

Where was he on Sunday night this week after a member of the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad died in an alcohol-related crash with one of his teammates behind the wheel?

The door seemed wide open for another halftime editorial with Costas saying "If Joe Blow hadn't drank all that beer, then teammate John Doe would still be alive today.... let's ban booze!"

For some reason, our nation seems okay with the idea that people should be trusted to drink responsibly, yet the same confidence cannot be shared with gun ownership?

Or maybe it has something to do with who sponsors the NFL? We see a lot more commercials for beer than for bullets during your typical Sunday football broadcast.

If the later were the case, I'm guessing Bob Costas would have picked a different newspaper editorial to read in place of spending the time it would have taken him to formulate his own opinion to waste our halftime with.

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