The tragic murder suicide of football player Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend shocked the sports world around the country. However, during a football game, NBC reporter Bob Costas used the tragedy to promote gun control and ignited a massive controversy. He later went on to call his statement a “mistake” and that he supports the Second Amendment, but went on to ask “what do you need a semi-automatic weapon for?” This is hedging. One either supports the Second Amendment or not. It is a Bill of Rights– not a bill of needs. Some of the popular firearms right now are semi-automatics. What about a need for a semi- automatic? How about to defend ourselves from dangerous drug cartels armed with fully automatic weapons and explosives that are currently attacking our southern border and trying to operate covertly in our country? Catch the YouTube video on this.
During his rant, Costas quoted sports reporter Jason Whitlock, who made a disgusting comment that the NRA was the new KKK. I didn’t know that trying to protect people’s gun rights was the equivalent of lynching African Americans, but unfortunately this kind of hateful rhetoric has become all too common. While attending Father Michael Pleger’s Church, Chicago police superintendent Gary McCarthy infamously compared lax gun laws to institutionalized racism . The organized civilian disarmament crowd has also engaged in this kind of race bating hate speech.
Head of the Brady Campaign, Dan Gross blogged that the NRA “uses the right amount of racism” to further their agenda. In addition to this, Gross and his organization have shamelessly exploited the Trayvon Martin tragedy and worked to demonize George Zimmerman before the case has even gone to trial, taking Zimmerman’s mug shot and putting “I am the NRA” on it. Not surprising that an organization that has opposed the Second Amendment also opposes the right to be innocent until proven guilty. Someone should remind these race baiters that it was an elderly African American man named Otis McDonald who sued the City of Chicago over its unconstitutional handgun ban. They should also look up the history of gun control, given that many of the first firearms laws were designed to stop blacks from owning guns.
A guest on television following the Costas rant, Gross said that he wasn’t out to repeal the Second Amendment, but that we should simply have a national conversation about guns and how to keep dangerous people from getting them. Gross misrepresents his organization. The Brady campaign opposed “right to carry” laws, opposed a law that would make states recognize other state’s concealed carry permits (like driver’s licenses and state ID cards),supported a ban on certain semi-automatic firearms , supported bans on magazines that hold over ten rounds, and supported a ban on the FN Five Seven pistol . In other words, Gross and his organization have supported every anti-gun bill ever crafted and opposed every bill to protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Gross says we need a national conversation, yet the Brady campaign bans anyone who disagrees with them from their Facebook page. So when Gross says “we need to talk about guns”, he really means lets repeal the Second Amendment.
When Costas says that if Belcher didn’t have a gun he and his girlfriend would be alive, I just have to shake my head, Chris Benoit, a professional wrestler, strangled both his wife and son and then hung himself. I’m sure if we just cut off everyone’s hands there would be no more violence either.
There are many things we can do to reduce violence in our country and in professional sports. One thing we don’t talk about in this country is mental illness and how we can help people who are mentally ill. Too often we either ignore mental illness or simply put people who are mentally ill on psychiatric drugs and send them back into society. Prior to 1968 people who were mentally ill could legally own guns, but it was also easier to commit them to mental institutions. However since 1968, it has become increasingly harder to commit people who are seriously mentally ill or dangerous. In Virginia Tech, Tuscon, and Aurora, all of the shooters showed continuing signs of bizarre behavior and mental illness, yet nothing was done. Seung Hui Cho was even declared mentally ill and in need of hospitalization by a judge. Yet instead of involuntarily committing him, he was released with an order to receive outpatient treatment. As a result, he was not flagged as a prohibited person when he bought his guns. Had he been involuntarily committed, it’s more likely he would have been flagged as a prohibited purchaser.
Go to the Brady campaign’s website and look at the states with “strong gun laws”. Then go to this map and look at the states that are the worst on mental health reporting. With the exception of NY and CA, every state that has the strongest gun laws also has the worst records on submitting mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. In fact Hawaii only submitted one! Meanwhile some of the top performing states are Washington, Virginia, and Texas where gun laws are liberal. Maybe the Brady Campaign should stop scolding Washington and Virginia about allowing “high capacity magazines” and “military style assault weapons” and start lecturing Hawaii, Maryland, and New Jersey about their laziness on mental health reporting to gun purchase data bases. Even states like Florida and Arizona were better about submitting mental health records.
We also should start asking whether combative and violent sports contribute to mental illness. Being knocked on the head constantly has been shown to have a detrimental effect. Ten NFL players have already committed suicide, which should lead us to wonder whether constant knocks on the head can contribute to mental illness and lead to tragedies such as this.
Another thing we need to look at is drug and alcohol abuse as well as doping in sports. It was reported that Belcher was mixing alcohol with painkillers and had struggled with this for awhile. Anyone knows that alcohol and drugs with guns don’t mix. Doping in sports is another thing that needs to be addressed as certain steroids have proven to have side effects that include violence. Doping should not be cool and we need to send a clear message it won’t be tolerated. Lance Armstrong and Barry Bonds may have gotten caught, but I’m sure this is more common then we think. Instances of doping or cheating should be taken seriously and those caught in the act should be banned for life.
Another question I have to ask is if guns are the problem, why does most of the gun violence occur in poor inner cities and not in Rural or Suburban areas where gun ownership is very high? I t’s simple, because there is a culture in the inner city that leads to this. Many children grow up in households where parents are either not around, are addicted to drugs or alcohol, or just don’t care. Why is it cool to have nine or ten kids and not be around to take care of them? We put drunk drivers to shame; we should do the same with deadbeat parents. When children grow up in an environment surrounded by poverty and violence, they often fall into it if they don’t have someone around to guide them away from it. After these kids get a felony conviction, it becomes harder for them to find work and many of them turn to crime. We also need to look at the values in some of these neighborhoods. Why is it acceptable to shoot someone over a cell phone or shoes? Finally we need to address the culture of irresponsibility in this country- especially when it comes to celebrities and athletes. Want a good example? Michael Vick was arrested for running an illegal dog fighting ring, yet he’s back in the NFL. Chris Brown beats up his girlfriend, and doesn’t even do jail time. Paris Hilton cries when she goes to jail and gets released. What kind of message are we sending when we let famous people off easy because they are famous? It sends a message that you aren’t responsible for your own actions, which creates a culture that allows bad things to happen.
If Bob Costas and Dan Gross want to have a national conversation about guns, let us also have a national conversation about the things that make it possible for violence to happen in sports and across our country, doping, substance abuse, child abuse, father absence, the weakness of our criminal justice system, and a culture of irresponsibility. Oh, and if the Brady Campaign wants to have a serious debate, they should stop blocking people from their Facebook page who disagree with them.
PS-This evening during Sunday Night Football Costas expressed sadness over the recent death of Dallas Cowboy player Brown, who died while a passenger in a car crash. His teamate was arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter. Tellingly, Costas did not call for a ban of cars or alcohol. Unfortunately, this recent tragedy highlights the double standard when it comes to guns.