Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Bob Costas and the Gun Control Debate

Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them; and all the men who were with him did the same. 12They mourned and wept, and fasted until evening for Saul and for his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. 13David said to the young man who had reported to him, “Where do you come from?” He answered, “I am the son of a resident alien, an Amalekite.” 14David said to him, “Were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” 15Then David called one of the young men and said, “Come here and strike him down.” So he struck him down and he died. 16David said to him, “Your blood be on your head; for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the Lord’s anointed.’”
II Samuel 1:11-16

Javon Belcher was the best linebacker, and maybe the best football player to ever play for the University of Maine Black Bears, and he went on to play for the Kansas City Chiefs in the National Football League. He graduated with a degree in family relations.

Last Saturday morning he shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then drove to the Chiefs practice facility to thank his head coach and general manager, Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli, for giving him a chance to play in the NFL before killing himself.

Now, three days later, there is widespread outrage. Just Google story and you will find bloggers and columnists from coast to coast up in arms.

The target of their outrage is Bob Costas.

If you haven’t been following the story, that may sound confusing. Costas didn’t shoot anybody, but he did something much worse. He spoke about gun control on national television. At half-time of the Sunday night game he took a little more than a minute to suggest that without a handgun, both Perkins and Belcher might still be alive.

Jeff Wagner, a sportscaster in Milwaukee said Costas could be summed up in three words, “What a weasel!” His blog on the subject was titled, “Hey Bob, Just Shut Up and Call the Game.” Apparently, Mr. Wagner is not aware that Costas doesn’t actually call the game. Maybe he has Costas confused with Cris Collinsworth or Al Michaels.

There have been calls to fire Costas and to boycott NBC.

The critics called it a “rant,” though it was delivered calmly and without rancor. Angry and outraged commentators asked how Costas could be so callous as to use a tragedy like the deaths of Kasandra Perkins and Javon Belcher to advance his own “political agenda.” It was, they claimed, “unseemly.”

Which makes sense.

Obviously, we wouldn’t use a death in a fire to talk about fire safety. We wouldn’t talk about drunk driving or seatbelts after a traffic fatality. And we certainly wouldn’t talk about smoking after someone who smoked for thirty years died of lung cancer. In all those cases, we would wait a decent interval, until all of us had forgotten what happened before we talked about how future deaths could be prevented.

Bob Costas crossed the line. He violated the unwritten rules.

In spite of the killings in a Colorado movie theater in July and a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin in August, gun control was barely hinted at during the presidential election. And if you Google
“mass shootings in the United States,” you will be amazed at how many killings you don’t even remember. For the most part, we have followed the unwritten rule and have not spoken a critical word about the guns used (mostly obtained legally) to kill innocent people.

And as a pastor, I should confess that I don’t think I have ever addressed the issue of gun control in a sermon.

Ironically, the Javon Belcher murder and suicide probably provided the weakest argument for gun control. Sadly, men have been killing women since long before there were handguns.

I don’t know whether better gun control laws would have saved Kasandra Perkins’ life. I do know that our unwillingness to deal with the proliferation of firearms in this country is just plain crazy.


  1. I would put it that it's our unwillingness to deal with the reality that there has always been, is now, and always will be violence in the world -- at least until His second coming, and maybe even then -- and refusing to prepare our children to deal with that horrible reality. An estimated ninety-four million American handgun owners didn't kill anyone with a handgun this year. And that's been true (although the number keeps growing) for quite a few years. Should we have better camera control, to prevent child pornography? Press control, to prevent libel? Religion control, to prevent bigoted preaching? Or just microphone control, to keep someone from shooting off his uninformed mouth?

    1. Nice bow tie, htom!

    2. 20 kids dead in Newtown Ct.

      htom is strangely silent. What can he say now?

      20 kids dead.

      20 families that will never get over this.

      A town that will never get over this.

      A country that must not stand for this growing, routine gun-addled, gun-idolatrous, gun-mania of death and destruction.

      Speak to us, htom. Tell us of the Lord returning. Tell us all your slick, well-funded, pat NRA answers.

      20 kids are dead in Newtown, and htom is strangely silent.

  2. What I deeply believe is that, when Our Lord returns, he'll bring a huge cache of AK-47s with magnum magazines, and lead us all to wipe out the sinners and gun-wusses. Or maybe an htom bomb.