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Published: 12/5/2012

Something must be said about guns

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

We like to say we live in the greatest country on earth, and perhaps we do, but it is also among those with the least rigorous gun laws and with the highest incidence of gun violence.

Our youth are killing and maiming each other on street corners at alarming rates; husbands murder wives, and vice versa; innocent children too often caught in the crossfire, and lives of loved ones and friends irreparably altered.

This isn’t about the Second Amendment, at least directly. That protects our right to bear firearms to defend ourselves, and that’s fine, although one could argue too many people are loop-holing that “right” to play offense, not defense.

And there are guns used for sport with which I have no particular problem, although wouldn’t it be sportier if the deer were also armed?

But I certainly don’t have the guts to seriously delve into that. The Second Amendment seems sacrosanct. So, too, should be the Ten Commandments, one of which deals with killing. It’s wrong, and The Guy who authored those commandments didn’t include any asterisks.

Thou shall not kill … with a gun, a knife, a rope, bare hands, a needle, or anything you’d find under the kitchen sink.

Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs, however, used a gun. He murdered his girlfriend, the mother of his 3-month-old child, then he murdered himself.

In our country, something similar and no less tragic happens dozens of times a day, hundreds of times a week, thousands of times a year. This mind-numbing insanity ensnares people of all races, of both genders, in central-city neighborhoods, in affluent suburbs, and in idyllic rural communities that long ago might have been depicted in a Norman Rockwell painting.

But a Jovan Belcher makes headlines, and when his NFL team plays a game 36 hours later in a stadium mere yards from where he killed himself, it connects the news cycles and intrudes into our consciousness.

If one doesn’t speak up then, well, then when?

So Jason Whitlock wrote a column. And Bob Costas cited Whitlock’s work during his halftime commentary on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. And both have been heavily criticized.

Whitlock, an acquaintance, is a former Kansas City Star columnist who now writes for Foxsports.com. He is polarizing, often controversial. He is African-American and, when the situation calls for it, becomes the distraught black conscience who decries the hip-hop environment and its drug culture, violence ... and guns.

When he says, “I believe the NRA is the new KKK,” arming black youths and turning cities into shooting galleries, threatening more than enhancing liberty, you cringe a bit, getting his point even if you feel it is perhaps unfair and not that simple.

What Whitlock wrote, in part, was this: “Our gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy… Handguns do not enhance our society. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.”

His detractors point out that none of the above should excuse murder or soften a murderer into a victim. No argument here.

Critics of Costas seem to resent that he intruded upon a sports and entertainment setting to heave a political football.

But we are nation of free speech, right?

Ignoring the subject is scarier than any debate.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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