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Published: Tuesday, 12/11/2012

Costas misses big picture in gun-control debate

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR

Bob Costas had the ideal opportunity to take the most meaningful shot heard ’round the sports world, and he missed.

About a week ago, when NFL player Jovan Belcher brutally murdered the mother of his three-month-old child, then a short time later took his own life, Costas rose to the bully pulpit during NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast.

With the horror of Belcher’s actions so fresh in everyone’s minds, Costas could have said something profound and poignant that really put the tragic events in proper perspective.

Instead, he jumped on that well-worn soapbox, called out the posse, and told them to round up the usual lone suspect — the gun. Another woman lay dead, the victim of violence we mistakenly call domestic, and Bob wanted to indict the gun. He blamed something he called “the gun culture.”

We should have heard Costas use that forum to call for an end to this culture where men resolve their conflicts with women by resorting to brutality. Musical lyrics dehumanize women and glorify violence, buttressing this culture where women become more someone’s property, and less a person to be respected and treated as equals.

Crime statistics tell us that today, tomorrow, and every day since Belcher killed Kasandra Perkins, three women will be murdered in the U.S. by a boyfriend or a husband. It seems that Costas had the ideal moment to address that horrific scorecard, but he wasted it.

And what about the crumbling culture of fatherhood. Costas, or any of the other national newsies that addressed the violent deaths at Belcher’s hands, didn’t seem to flinch at the fact that Belcher, the father of a newborn daughter, was camped out at another woman’s apartment the night before the murder took place.

Costas could have made the salient point that Belcher should have been home that previous evening, being a dad and rocking that little girl to sleep, and looking at those perfect eye lashes and those tiny fingers and wondering why God had ever blessed him with such a gift. If he was being a good father, then none of this would have happened, Bob.

Dads belong with their families, not out on the town. Jovan Belcher should have been with his daughter, Zoey, and the baby’s mother, parenting and protecting. That’s what good dads do, and if that makes me a Puritan by today’s standards, then hand me by breeches and doublet.

Costas stated, in his best melodramatic Olympics announcer voice, that “if Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.” That conclusion is a good furlong beyond absurd. This was a crime of rage — Belcher put nine rounds into this defenseless woman. With that level of fury, Belcher could have bludgeoned her with a candleholder, stabbed her with a steak knife, or choked the life from her with his bare hands. That stuff is in the crime statistics too.

The sin here is murder, not the methodology.

Given the track of his rant, Costas likely never imagined this scenario, but say Belcher is home, caring for his gorgeous baby girl and spending time with the woman who carried that child. Someone tries to come through the door and do harm to his loved ones, so Belcher pulls out that handgun and protects his family. Is that this dreaded “gun culture” at work again?

What Costas and many of the same sect want to avoid are the real cultural issues at play here. Gang members spray an apartment with bullets, just on the hunch that a targeted rival might be present, and without a care for the grandmother or the toddlers inside watching cartoons. And we fault the gun as well as the gunner.

It is just so easy in these tragic situations when all roads for a cure lead to blaming the gun, and convincing ourselves that we can make all people be good people with just a few more laws. Show me where that feel-good nonsense has worked.

New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., all have very tough gun control laws, and yet, blood runs in their streets. Norway has some of the most restrictive gun laws on the planet, and yet a maniac slaughtered close to 100 people at a summer camp. He had guns, but since there is tight gun control nobody else did, and his rampage went on, unabated.

Belcher was driving a quarter-of-a-million dollar Bentley when he took his murder/suicide run. Does Costas really believe a gun law would have prevented a man with those kinds of resources from purchasing a firearm? Belcher had the cash to fill the trunk with guns, legal or illegal.

Strip away the obfuscation, and this was an act of violence, followed by the ultimate act of cowardice. And even in Costas’ “Brave New World,” Belcher could have killed himself in a variety of nongun manners, after he snuffed out the life of Kasandra.

Out of respect for this 22-year-old woman who was viciously murdered, likely because she dared disagree with a man or did not give him his way, let’s cease with all of these whimsical explanations and excuses. You can add “allegedly” to satisfy the local barrister, but Belcher did it.

Belcher killed the mother of his child, then took his own life before he could face justice, and in doing so he left that bundle of innocence, his three-month-old daughter, an orphan. He did it. The gun would have never left the drawer, taken aim and self-triggered. He did it.

If Jovan Belcher had the best interests of that precious little gift from God in mind, none of this happens. Instead, violence and a cowardly selfishness won out, and another woman is dead.

I know hundreds of people who own guns — hunters, target shooters, collectors, and some who just want to be able to protect their families.

None of them has ever raised a muzzle to settle an argument, rob a convenience store, or silence a woman.

In most cases, long before they got that first lesson in how to properly handle and respect a firearm, they got repeated lessons in why we should respect our fellow human beings, especially the mothers of our children. If that was part of the culture, then Zoey has mom and dad around for her first Christmas.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.



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