Tonight during his NFL broadcast Bob Costas suggested that, were it not for gun ownership, Chiefs player Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend might still be alive (Belcher murdered his girlfriend and then killed himeslf).
Costas was echoing words written by sports columnist Jason Whitlock:
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.
These are specious arguments based on logic that, applied to other situations, others would find silly.
For instance, we could argue that sports cars tempt people to drive too fast and cause accidents. We could say that, were it not for cars driving on the roads, we could save 30,000 or so lives per year, which is about the number of people who die in traffic accidents.
Maybe we should ban delicious foods, too. After all, foods that taste good tempt people into overeating which leads to heart disease, diabetes and a raft of other life-threatening illnesses.
About sexy clothing and good looks too? How many rapes could be prevented if people were less attractive and fashionable?
These are absurdities, of course. Traffic accidents are the fault of the drivers, not the car. Obesity is the fault of the eater, not the food. Rape is the crime of the rapist, not the victim.
And gun crimes should be blamed on the criminals, not the gun.
Clearly, something was wrong in Mr. Belcher’s world. Perhaps it was a mental thing. Maybe he got too many concussions (should we ban football?). Maybe he was upset about mean things sports journalists write and say about him (should we ban free speech?). Maybe there isn’t an explanation at all, and it’s just one of those random tragedies that take place sometimes in this global society of billions of people.
But what’s sure that if Belcher wanted to kill his girlfriend and himself, he didn’t need a gun. That was just one means to an end.
What’s also sure is that sports journalists ought to stick to sports.