A Condemnation of Our Gun Culture From the Most Unlikeliest of Sources
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A Condemnation of Our Gun Culture From the Most Unlikely of Sources

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | December 3, 2012 | Comments ()


During the half-time portion of last night's Sunday Night Football game between the Eagles and the Cowboys (sorry, Philly; it's been a rough year), Bob Costas took a moment to reflect on the tragedy that took place on Saturday when a Kansas City Chiefs player, Jovan Belcher, murdered his wife, drove to Arrowhead stadium, and then shot himself mere feet from his coach, Romeo Crennel, and general manager, Scott Pioli.

Nevertheless, the Chiefs played their Sunday game (and won for only the second time this season), which is a strange call to make given the tragedy that took place the day before IN THE STADIUM and IN FRONT OF THE COACH. The Chiefs organization, and the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodel, caught a lot of flack for playing the game as scheduled, as they should have.

It was Bob Costas, however, who was daring enough to used the occasion to condemn gun culture, a brave move to do in front of an audience likely rife with gun nuts.

"You knew it was coming," said Costas. "In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again, 'Something like this really puts it all in perspective.' Well if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games. Please. Those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports, would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective."

Well said, Costas, who went on to quote from a Kansas City sports writer Jason Whitlock about handgun violence. "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."

Naturally, Costas is already facing criticism for not only advocating gun control, but using an NFL telecast as his platform to do so.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • OldSchool60

    Gun worship is a religion.
    No point in arguing about it, except that everyone feels better venting and feeling self-righteous.

  • duckandcover

    Naturally, Costas is already facing criticism for not only advocating gun control, but using an NFL telecast as his platform to do so.

    I feel like this is a case of Pot vs. Kettle.

  • Joseph Howe

    You know, some of us do not feel comfortable living in a society with sheep like you so willing to give up the rights of others so you can feel temporarily safe.

    We live in a nation that allows the following;
    Indefinite detention of US Citizens
    Destruction of habeaus corpus
    Assasination lists which contain the names of US Citizens
    Undeclared war in violation of the Constitution
    Secret prisons and rendition
    Domestic spying
    Warrantless wiretapping
    Illegal search and seizure by gov't authorities
    Illegal electronic surveillance of emails

    Maybe some of us feel that the 2nd Amendment is the last check against oppression of tyranny and not simply a right to go hunting and target shooting. And if people like me are crazy gun nuts, consider Obama has used all of those "powers"

    Then consider again a right winger like Bush with the same authority.

    Still feel safe?

  • Purplejebus

    And, don't expect it to get any better.

  • duckandcover

    Citation needed.

  • Stephen Nein

    Has anyone linked to Ta-Nehisi Coates' article?

  • I am always amazed at what White or I guess Middle America deems a tragedy. Granted, I am from Baltimore, the only city that gives Detroit a run for its money in terms of overall urban decay and gun violence. I've never owned, operated, or even held a gun (despite doing six years in the military) and have never had a desire to do so. I'm actually quite adverse to guns in general.

    But there is no point in saying that guns feed directly into violence. Its almost impossible to get a firearm legally in Baltimore. Add in the fact that the city is still coming to terms with the capital flight from the MLK riots, the complete lack of jobs, and the location of Baltimore on the I-95 drug corridor and franking people here would murder each other at a frightening amount using kittens if they had to.

    That wrestler killed his kid and wife with weightlifting equipment. I mean come on...we watch these dudes obliterate their bodies every Sunday for next to nothing compared to the physical toll and people act shocked when they kill themselves and others?

    I guess I should just be happy to see a murdered sister make the national news. Crap...that sounds completely wrong. I think you folks know what i mean.

  • Uriah_Creep

    people here would murder each other at a frightening amount using kittens if they had to

    I'm an advocate for kitten control. Let's end kitten violence!

  • abell

    You're what's wrong with America. The Constitution mandates a kitten in every home!

  • Uriah_Creep

    But can't you see that with a kitten in your home, you're more likely to use it? Good God, man, it's simple logic!

  • abell

    A kitten has a right to do what it wants and should not be prohibited from free expression, even if that means (in the case of my house) fighting all the other kittens and breaking a bottle of wine. You will not impede on my, or my kitten's, freedoms!

  • Uriah_Creep

    Well at the very least you Americans should reinstate the law banning assault kittens, because you must admit, no one needs one of those. In Canada, we have virtually no assault kittens, and I'm happy for it. Mind you, they tried a long kitten registry here and it turned out to be an expensive failure.

  • Don Juan de Markup

    Costas was told what to say and when to say it, he's just a mouth piece and if the NBC management had told him to do a bit on the Elmo thing instead, that's what he would have talked about. Belcher didn't need a gun to kill her, he could have used a kitchen knife, a teaspoon or his bare hands and he could have done the same to 99.44% of the entire population.

    Speed and terrifying, raw physicality are what the NFL sells and that's what people watch and as a multibillion dollar industrial conglomerate they get the best of the best. People who think they would have any chance against him or OJ are severely delusional.

    God made men, Colonel Colt made men equal was the 1800s saying and it is no less true today than it was when it was coined. If you want to go sit in the back of the bus, that's fine, go and sit, but don't stand in the way of those of us who do want equality against anyone else in a similar situation.

  • David Sorenson

    I have no problem with Costas speaking out against guns or using a football game to do so. I just wonder what the practical remedy to this situation would be using gun control laws. Was there a reason to deny Belcher a gun? Criminal history? Dangerous mental illness? Anything? What realistic gun control laws would have prevented this?

  • abell

    sorry about that

    The idea that someone might do something terrible is a justification to ban them from engaging in that behavior is fundamentally opposed to the idea of personal liberty. Since I know the audience that I'm talking to, think about birth control. Socially conservative folk will tell you that birth control leads to all sorts of problems, like sexual promiscuity, increases in divorce rates, etc. They'll also have statistics about it. Now, some of you may not even be worried about those consequences, but, say you're a traditional person like me, and you do like the idea of long term monogamous relationships and would be concerned by the explosion of the divorce rate, etc. Let's even say that those two figures (widespread access to contraception and increases in divorce rate, etc) are strongly correlated, which is something I've seen some data towards. Even so, I, someone who believes in a more traditional morality of sex and relationships, would not argue that contraception should be made illegal because it appears to lead people into sin. After all, just because the one may cause the other, not everyone is affected, and you have a right to chose what to do with your life. Succinctly, whatever the statistics seem to imply about correlations between the two, just because you use a condom, doesn't mean you're going to cheat on your wife. It's not a perfect comparison, but, perhaps it gives a different view on the conversation.

    Of course, the response is that guns kill, which is objectively worse than sexual promiscuity. And I agree with that, but, there's an element missing in these conversations. Sometimes, it's necessary to kill people. Specifically, it's legal, and I believe moral, to kill someone in the event of self defense from an attack meant to maim or kill, rape, or you are protecting someone else from the same. Your states' legal language may vary. Thankfully, we live in one of the safest countries on Earth. Less than 1 in 100,000 people are victims of any sort of violent crime in the States, and, if you're not poor in an urban center, that number drops precipitously from there. However, statistics are little comfort if you lost that lottery, and, we can't be sure that it will remain that safe. You may dismiss that as paranoia, but, I'd much rather be wrong and be paranoid, than be wrong and be dead. My corollary to Pascal's Wager. Also, since owning a gun doesn't mean you're going to kill someone, (NateMan has those statistics well laid out) it's very unlikely that I'm disproportionately adding risk by owning my own gun.

    So, you may (very probably not, provided we don't see a significant rise in violent crime) need to kill someone. But, how? I've been told by my well meaning, anti gun friends that I should just buy a baseball bat. Let's pretend that a criminal breaks into my house, and didn't bring a gun, because this is the ideal world and we've banned them and thoroughly cracked down preventing criminals from obtaining them illegally. I don't find that plausible, but, that's the scenario we're working with. I'm going to attack him because, I feel responsible for the safety of my family, and if I can stop him, while they're calling the cops, we all might have the chance to survive. Worst case scenario, I slowed him enough that the cops are only a minute or two out by the time I'm dead. If he did have a gun, without the element of surprise, I couldn't get within swinging distance and I'd be dead, immediately. So, he's only armed with a crowbar (he had to get into the house somehow). I, reasonably, fearing for my life (home invasions often lead to violence and in most states, you have no obligation to retreat from your own home) avoid him swinging his crowbar at my head, then counterattack, cracking open his skull. Already, you should be able to see the problem. I haven't trained for years to fight in melee combat, and a criminal probably has more experience in that sort of thing than I do. I am a mid 20's male, in pretty good shape, so, I probably have enough strength to kill him, but, I'd still have to be lucky. Say, he's unarmed. I actually would be in a better position, because, I may be strong enough and fast enough to restrain him and beat him senseless enough to call the cops. But, then again, maybe not. Both of us with knives are a worst case scenario, because, they require quite a bit of skill and, best case scenario they're very dirty fights. Maybe, if I'm very lucky, I survive with serious damage and the other guy doesn't hurt my family.

    Again, I'm a 200lb, 6'0", mid-20's male, who's stayed in decent shape after his decade of swimming, and a realistic assessment of me trying to fairly combat a criminal is not looking hot. I might survive, but, more likely, I don't. I'm not peak physical condition, but, I'm way better off than the majority of law abiding citizens, due to age, gender, and personal life choices. The thing about criminals, particularly violent ones, are that they've practiced hurting people. They're much better at it than those of us who've never had a real need to, beyond the odd fight with our siblings. In a fair fight, they'll win, and being criminals, it's not likely that its a fair fight. So, we come to the crux of the argument against guns, particularly, handguns, that guns make it easy to kill. I agree wholeheartedly. Yes. That's exactly the point. A gun, which you can learn how to use safely in an afternoon and effectively in a week, no matter your gender or your size, evens the field between you and a criminal who probably has way more experience in hurting people. Or, against a much larger, abusive husband, as detailed above.

    So, let's go through the logic of the argument. The fact that you might kill someone without cause does not mean that you will kill someone without cause, and since we believe that humans are capable of being rational actors, we expect that you won't. This point is better detailed by NateMan (BTW, if we don't trust that, screw gun rights, we need to give up on this democracy nonsense, because it's founded on the idea that humans can and should behave reasonably and rationally). Violent crime happens, rarely, but, still too often. An individual has a legally protected right to protect themselves, their family, and those around them from violent crime. As detailed above, the cheapest, most effective way to defend yourself and your loved ones is using a gun. QED: guns are worth owning.

    Of course, that's all worst case scenario. Mostly, I just like putting lots of little holes in pieces of paper, and would appreciate it if you let me continue to do so in peace.

  • BierceAmbrose

    I see that having had a wide-ranging, polite and informative discussion on guns on this very site a few months back, Dear Overlord has decided to chum the waters & invite reactive invective, calumny, blame-storming and other similar circle-jerk self-reinforcing crap because, well because the last time didn't devolve into a lynch-flogging of the bad guys in his particular immorality play.

    These people being dead is a problem with a thug subculture that glorifies and accepts violence not "gun culture", that is if we choose to define "gun culture" by the behavior, attitudes and norms of the vast majority of people who own and use guns.

    So make up what you like about people you decline to meet or engage with. There's a name, and dismal history for doing this.

  • AngelenoEwok

    Plenty of people kills their spouse or partners without being part of a "thug subculture."

  • BierceAmbrose

    Indeed, that's true. You make my point for me. Perhaps we should ban spouses or partners, since they seem to lead so much to killing.

    Killing - violence - is its own thing. We should maybe pay attention first to that, as some people kill each other regardless of the subculture we assign them. Also, regardless of the convenient means.

    You might look at this article with interviews of Belcher's own
    teammates: http://www.nydailynews.com/new...

    They don't assign the tragedy to the gun, much to the chagrin of the article's author & the presumptions shown by that article's very interesting title.

    From what I know, that sportscaster & the wanna-be pundit he quotes are making stuff up to object to. This "gun culture" they suggest - and the many folks hereabouts who took the lead and ran with it - has nothing to do with legal gun owners as I know them, or their culture if they have one.

    The people I know who hunt, who shoot and yes wear guns on their hips are universally reasoned, deliberate and disciplined. They are meticulously aware of the power they carry. This idea that the presence of a gun tempts them to self-indulgence is exactly backwards. They are more prudent in the presence of a gun. With some people, you can even tell if they're carrying because of the way their body language changes - more contained, deferential, and still.

    So, not this: "They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate
    arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.”
    Rather, this: "They call us to be our best selves, require us to deescalate arguments, and encourage us to reject confrontation." This is also what I feel when I (infrequently) handle a gun myself.

    Looking at statistics for deaths by violence or by guns, the horror clusters and it sure looks like something other than the number of guns is the main driver.(*) (Double-plus especially the number of legal guns does not seem to be the main driver.) This fits with what I've seen. I'm pretty casual where I go and when in my city, mainly alone & on foot. You know the neighborhoods where beatings are just accepted. You can tell when you're being sized up as a mark, or as whether you're part of the contest by the more organized others. Violence is just part of the game, there, and sometimes people die. More often people are beaten, knifed or otherwise abused, on purpose and for a reason. Guns, for these folks, are just another way - an expedient.

    This "gun culture" nonsense is confusing entertainment for reality. Gun owners are no more bullet-spraying macho-weenies than carving up coeds is typical of chain saw wielders. I'm certain there's some crazy who has used every implement in our culture for ill ends. Maybe even got off on it. Probably got off on it. That's the point. They're crazy. Freezers are not usually instruments of torture, nor Maytag fans psycho hitmen, no matter how well-done that scene in Judas Kiss.

    In the end I cannot get around these uncomfortable facts:

    1 - Every time Kasandra Michelle Perkins got in a room with Jovan Belcher, she emerged alive only because he chose not to kill her, gun or no gun. Most of us are at risk of being killed, most of the time, by someone nearby.

    Life - being alive - is "such a slender thread." We don't like to think about it much, but we flourish on others' forbearance - it's called civilization. When that breaks down, the means of violence are several and whatever's handy.

    I wonder sometimes if the squealing about guns isn't mainly because a present gun is a token for all that other risk we prefer not to acknowledge.

    2 - If Kasandra Michelle Perkins had a gun, we might be talking about a different tragedy.

    I have a sister who is tiny, a mother who is tinier and ancient, a brother in law who travels for his work with a fair amount of hard-value in hand, etc. If they choose to remain vulnerable to the goodwill of Jovan Belcher, that's fine with me. I won't require it.

    Until everyone has become as the angels, I'm willing to accept some risk to myself to allow other people to secure their own life. So, make your argument - Kasandra Michelle Perkins, my mother, sister & etc. should be at the mercy of the stronger, crazier, and less moral so you can feel a bit safer, or more smugly evolved.

    I believe everyone has the right to protect their own life & be responsible for the means they choose. I may or may not carry a gun myself. My choice. I won't secure a modicum of my own security at the expense of theirs, or yours.

    3 - We'll be no more successful at a gun prohibition than we've been at drug prohibition. Indeed, being a product produced using technology, guns will favor the well-financed, organized and ruthless, in short organized vs. opportunistic crime.

    I would rather not create another lucrative line of business for the pan-national drug cartels and their supporting services. Indeed, MBA-types would drool (or worse) over the "synergies" between the illegal gun and illegal drug trades.

    "You've got to carry weapons because you always carry cash."

    (*) Careful with the statistics. Say there's 10 murders by gun to every 3 by knife - total 13 - when guns are accessible. That doesn't mean you'll have 3 murders should guns go away. The impulse to kill - not so much caused by the gun, I think. Some might choose a different tool if guns aren't available.

    Guns and knives are partially substitutable goods, in terms of committing murder, meaning you can use one or the other to accomplish you goal. They are partially substitutable in that Jovan Belcher could pretty much kill you just as well with a gun, a knife, or a ham sandwich. For my mother or Kasandra Michelle Perkins, a gun could work, while a knife probably not - to murder, or to stop someone intent on their murder.

  • AngelenoEwok

    I am not someone who advocates for more gun control. Chill, homie.

    "Perhaps we should ban spouses or partners, since they seem to lead so much to killing."

    NOW you're talking.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Sorry A. I felt the need to weigh in, in general.

  • googergieger

    For all the crap Costas gets for being one boring mothertrucker. And oh god, is he ever. Man has always had some grape fruits on him. Also huge testicles.

  • duckandcover

    Go home, you're drunk.

  • sherlockzz

    Sounds like a 'roided up control freak with concussive issues didn't want his baby mama stepping out where he couldn't keep tabs on her. I'll bet Ms.Kasandra Perkins wishes she had a gun just before she died at his hands.

  • abell

    No, more likely, she was terrified that a man she had at some point trusted was trying to kill her. Or possibly disbelief that it could be happening.

    Let's try not to use tragedies to make pithy statements in support of our pet politics.

  • sherlockzz

    Excuse me? It appears to me that making "pithy statements in support of" pet politics is what Costas was doing as well as what most of the subsequent posters were doing. Don't you mean "Let's try not to make pithy statements in support of 'our' pet politics" when they don't agree with your politics?

  • abell

    Scroll up, read, my lengthier post. And, yes, I agree, you're doing the same thing that Costas was doing, and are just as wrong.

  • sherlockzz

    My apologies. You're long post, which I skipped over originally, is cogent and well put. Apparently you disagree with the pithy brevity and implied vulgarity of my post. I can take that as constructive criticism. Not necessarily accepting that it is out of place on an internet forum but can recognize your opinion as legitimate.

  • abell

    Happens to all of us. I couldn't resist getting a similar dig in up above.

  • abell

    This is a sore subject for me, so ... here goes.

    The idea that someone might do something terrible

  • ,

    I kind of see both sides to the handgun* argument, so this is usually where I point out that if yesterday was like pretty much every day in America, about 90 people died in traffic accidents and nobody in the national media blinked an eye or much gave a fuck.

    *--Raising the distinction because the university in my town has a rifle team that has won the NCAA championship 14 times.

  • ,

    But but but ... if only Crennel and Pioli had been packing, they'd have been able to draw down on Belcher and say, "Drop the gun or we'll kill you!"

    So, as always: "More guns in more hands" is the answer to preventing tragedies like this.

  • NateMan

    First off, it's not only 'gun nuts' who enjoy owning and using guns. Many of us enjoy shooting and hunting and are perfectly willing to discuss and enact reasonable efforts to limit the use and ownership of guns by the criminal or mentally unfit:

    * Mandatory training sessions

    *National licensing

    *National gun registration

    *Immediate background checks


    However, when we get referred to as 'gun nuts', we rapidly lose any interest in holding any discussion on the subject. I've also yet to note any particular outrage on the part of the media (Pajiba included) for the 3 people dead to bladed weapons in WY right before this tragedy. 2 innocent people dead, plus the attacker at his own hand should, in terms of actual outrage, outweigh 1 innocent woman along with the attacker. At the very least, surely each death is equally tragic and fair time should be afforded to both events. But gun deaths are sexier, according to the media. When it was a bow & arrow or crossbow thought to be used, that got some traction. Then it quickly disappeared.

    Every innocent death by gunshot is a tragedy, to be sure. And if I could snap my fingers and make them all go away, I would happily do so. But I can't, and neither can you. What we can try to do is hold a reasonable discussion on the matter and come up with some rational ways to try to limit such violence. But so long as both the gun nuts and people who insist on labeling all gun owners as gun nuts stay the main voices at the table, that will never happen.

  • lowercase_ryan

    in 2008 there were approximately 9,400 shooting deaths in the US and there were 1,400 deaths from bladed weapons. Is it really so hard to understand why shooting deaths get more press? You can't fault the media for this, as an NFL player this was instantly a national story. I don't expect to see daily murder round-ups from across the country. Why would you?

  • NateMan

    Because of several things:

    1. The stabbings in WY were a national story. I first read about them on Buzzfeed and nbcnews.com. I then read about them on Masslive.com and the Slog. Primarily, I suspect, because they happened on a college campus. But it was one of the main tragedies making the rounds before this one.

    2. There are over 280 MILLION legally owned firearms in the US. There are over 50 MILLION legal gun owners. Assuming that every shooting death was perpetrated by a legal gun owner, that means 0.0188% of gun owners were involved in a shooting death. Less than 0.00335% of those legally owned firearms were used in a shooting death.

    As a culture we have very clear ideas on what a gun owner looks like and is capable of. They're male, they're staunchly Republican, they're rabid about gun laws, they're insensitive and dangerous and irrational and violent. Every gun death is held up, every shooting victim turned into a martyr. So it gets tiring to be a liberal, well-trained, and responsible gun owner. It gets tiring to have such a tiny, tiny percentage of our whole group, those who shoot innocent people, treated as though they're the majority or even significant minority of us.

    Apart from many soldiers I don't know a single person who has deliberately or accidentally shot anyone. I've known more than a few who were killed by their own drunk driving, or were killed by a drunk driver, or at the very least almost killed someone else. But we don't look at everyone who has a drink like an inebriated maniac. The Scoutmaster from my hometown stabbed his wife and then tried to cut his own throat when I was just graduating high school. But not everyone with a steak knife is a deranged killer.

    Every violent death is tragic. But considering how many guns and how many gun owners there are in this country, the numbers of accidental or deliberate shootings are shockingly low. And, after a while, it gets very frustrating to try to defend myself against the actions of that 1 in 10,000 who share nothing more in common with me than they too owned a firearm.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I'm confused, weren't you griping about the news cycle and how quickly we got over the stabbing story? To me it sounded like you were complaining that shooting deaths get more press than other forms of murder. Because shootings are sexy right? I disagree with your premise. To me more shootings = more press coverage.

  • NateMan

    I'm confused by your confusion. I think we might be talk at cross purposes.

  • lowercase_ryan

    agree to agree on the confusion. The rest of what you wrote I agree with so I'm just gonna stop while I know which way is up.

  • Well reasoned and said. I think for me, as a liberal who is admittedly wishy-washy on guns (never held or fired one, think I would LOVE it if I did) the thing that trips me up is WHY so many people (men in particular) are so hung up on guns as a hobby (I'm talking the 99% of law abiding, well adjusted normal people) when there is no other purpose for the construction of a gun than to be used as a weapon. You can drink without driving and killing yourself/others. In fact, the primary purpose of alcohol (and vehicles) is NOT to be used as a weapon. I think that's why it's easier (again, for me) to jump to a hasty assumption of one's nuttiness in regards to guns rather than in regards to drinking.

  • NateMan

    And I can absolutely understand that. Part of it is indeed nuttiness. There are many, many crazy people out there. It's sad but it's true. And many of them own guns. I'd like to do something about that as much as the next guy.

    A gun is a tool. Yes, it's a tool for killing, but it's still just a tool. You might as well ask why some people like fencing (swords, after all, are only designed for killing) or martial arts (self-defense translates to 'the ability to hurt someone very badly'). Lots of things are dangerous, and while they may not be designed strictly for killing, the people they kill don't end up any less dead than if they're shot.

    For the sane among us, there are multiple reasons. Some of it is tradition; I hunt with my father and uncle. I hunted with my grandfather. He hunted with his father, etc, back into the times when hunting was how we provided for our families.

    Some of it is culture. I grew up in the woods. My closest neighbor was half a mile away. The closest mall or movie theater was 20+ miles away. My high school was 10 miles away - and this is in Massachusetts, mind, not the backwoods of North Dakota. If I wanted to do something that didn't involve a book or my NES, I had to do it outside. And that typically meant fishing, hunting, or target shooting, because you can only stare up at the clouds for so long before it grows intensely boring. I also grew up farming. We killed our own beef cows on occasion, so any taboo I felt around guns quickly faded away.

    For some people it's the sense of power and marvel at technology or their own abilities. Some people sport wood when they hear a 60's era Mustang rev. Some people get the same when they hear a rifle report. Some people like to build them, just like a classic car. I'm not one of those people who finds ballistic statistics magical, but I will admit it's an immensely satisfying feeling to safely put together a weapon, aim it downrange, and feel it kick against your shoulder while a hole appears in a target a hundred yards away. It requires skill, precision, and confidence. And it's an easy and historically accessible way to find that.

    And there are police, and soldiers, and wilderness guides, and so on who make their livelihood based at least in part on their ability to use guns. Or whose parents did such.

    And, finally, there are people who legitimately feel they need them for home security. That's not me, and I think they're often more harm than they are help. But what isn't? I'm not going to tell them they're wrong because they think something I don't, not as long as they don't hurt someone else in the process.

  • Ruthie O

    Fuck man. There are so many different tragedies wrapped up in this story. The media continues to mainly report on Belcher and his legacy, as if Kasandra Michelle Perkins were merely a sideshow of this tragedy. I am not ready to vilify Belcher, as I won't be surprised if we find out about mental health issues and/or concussion-related injuries, but I also don't think the media should be singing his praises as if he did not take a life and leave behind an orphaned daughter. I can't imagine how heartbreaking it must be for the Perkins family to read about the memorials for Belcher the same day he murdered Kasandra Michelle Perkins.

  • Maguita NYC

    Beautifully stated.

    The attention, almost positive in its glorification that man is getting, is bordering on ridicule. In some outlets, he is being portrayed as someone who had sacrificed himself for his child.

    It lacks not only decorum, but also basic moral decency for the VICTIM's family and friends.

  • jzhz

    Thank you for saying her name instead of just referring to her as "the mother of Belcher's child" or "the wife" or something. She was murdered.

  • Maguita NYC

    “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.”

    THIS. SO MANY TIMES THIS. So many lives, innocent lives, lost because of this. The days of the evil and traitourous Far-West are so over. When are we going to honestly admit that the NRA is the BUSINESS of facilitating access to guns, and the "Association" never cares that facilitating your access to guns causes your death, or the death of those you love.

    Wake-up. Time to evolve beyond the cowboy/thug mentality.

  • lowercase_ryan

    It's too late, the gun culture has won out. Right now in America someone believes Obama had Jovan Belcher killed as part of his plan to take away "our guns".

  • Mrcreosote

    Let's not forget he was suffering from headaches and short term memory loss, at least according to people who knew him. Concussions and/or mental illness are the root cause of this. Guns make the violence easier, but bad things hapen,even without guns. It's easy to campaign against guns if you don't care about owning them. Curtailing others rights is a dangerous business. On the other hand, you will rarely meet a group of people more whiney and falsely oppressed than rabid gun's rights enthusiasts. To them a simple background check or waiting period is an untenable violation of the sacred second. What I'm saying here is that there are dicks on both sides. Also Costas is a preening condescending asshat.

  • Nicole_OCTV

    I get that some people want to own guns for hunting. I don't get hunting, but I understand someone else's right to do it. But a handgun is for one thing: shooting human beings. There is no logical reason why anyone who is not a cop, or military, or some such occupation, should own one. Moreover, why do you WANT to own one? (And when I say 'you', I'm referring to a hypothetical, group-encompassing 'you' - not YOU, Mrcreosote.)

  • Mrcreosote

    My relationship with guns is a family one. My grandfather had one, and going shooting with him is one of my fonder childhood memories. I do believe that understanding the basics of how a gun operates, what constitutes safe handling and firing of a gun and what NOT to do is fairly important. In the same way that I believe that changing a tire, taking care of animals, and installing basic plumbing is important. Holy crap, I may be Ron Swanson Troop Ranger. Anyway, I own guns because they are enjoyable to shoot, you CANNOT shoot well with a rented gun (every gun shoots slightly differently) and I maintain a pretty rigorous gun/ammo divide. I do not belong to the NRA and I have no desire to join. I also do not carry because that seems like a horrible idea. I firmly believe this to be a mental health issue-the way the US handles diagnosis and treatment is abysmal.

  • NateMan

    Agree with everything you say. Except the plumbng, I suck at plumbing.

  • AngelenoEwok

    "There is no logical reason why anyone who is not a cop, or military, or some such occupation, should own one."

    But then you get into the argument of: how safe we are we really when police and the military are the only ones with those kinds of weapons? My opinions about that question are complex, but it's a can of worms that can ruin the whole afternoon on the internet, I promise.

  • NynjaSquirrel

    I'm English, and consider myself pretty safe as for the most part, only the military and specially trained police units carry guns. Sure - you could get a gun on the black market, but that in itself carries a huge risk. 'Oh, but the 'right to bear arms' in case we have to defend ourselves against the government. Really? If the government ever wants you dead, you'll need more than a 9mm and a 'Hoo'rah!' attitude to stop them.

  • duckandcover

    Well said.

  • AngelenoEwok

    I agree with that; I think the level of non-firearm weapons the government/military has access to has rendered that part of the argument a bit moot.

    If I were in a population that was a frequent target of police brutality, however, I would want to be armed.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    that is the very crux of the 2nd Amendment.

  • lowercase_ryan

    you are not a ruiner. despite what everyone says.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Throughout the history of the world the relationship between governments and those governed hasn't always been a feel good story. Tyranny is an affront to basic tenets that America was founded on and the Second Amendment was written with that in mind.

    While I don't consider this a valid concern in this day and age I would also never support the repeal of the Second Amendment. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a gun person. I will never own one (save for a zombie apocalypse, but even then I want to be an archer. I've been reading way too many fantasy books lately, excuse me) and I've never even shot one. I have no desire to. But while I support the Second Amendment, what the NRA and their ilk have done to this country is so disgusting I can barely stomach it.

    Guns + Irrational fear of the world around you = Gun Culture

    Too many American's have been conditioned to see the world at large (from neighbors to countries) as a potential threat to their little world. At the same time the gun has become symbolic to the defense of that world. The gun has been touted as the answer and so more people look to the gun for answers.

    It is literally a vicious cycle.

  • NateMan

    Very fair point. I've certainly never given money to the NRA, and I never will. They are, to rational gun owners, as Fred Phelps is to peaceful Christians.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    so relieved to hear someone say that.

    though my brother-in-law belongs. :(

  • lowercase_ryan

    so often the vocal minority screws things for the rest of us.

  • NateMan

    Because they're fun? Why do people want to own psychotically fast crotch-rocket motorcycles? Why do people drink? Why do people do or own anything that's potentially dangerous?

    Because we want to. And as long as we're not hurting someone else, we're allowed to. Our behavior is not (within limits) restricted because of what some other dipshit does with the same items or abilities.

  • Nicole_OCTV

    Okay, a couple of counterpoints to this. First, unlike a gun, the MAIN PURPOSE for a motorcycle or a bottle of vodka to exist is not to wound, maim or kill a human being. That is what a gun is made for. That is it's purpose. Sure, some people might buy them so that they can shoot targets and have fun (which is also kind of considered 'practicing' mind you - practicing for when a person might use the gun on another person), but the primary purpose of a gun is to shoot a human being, whether that be in self-defense, anger, whatever. Kowasaki speed bikes aren't built with the intention that their eventual owners will use them to run people down in the streets.

    Second, if the reason you want to have a gun is fun, and I assume by fun you mean shooting non-living targets, then why couldn't there be licensed shooting ranges where you go, pay your $20, rent a gun and shoot at things for two hours? Why do you need to bring the gun home with you?

    I'm sure that there are a lot of science nerds who would really find it fun to spend a weekend building explosives from scratch, but that doesn't give them a right to do it. Even if they were just in it for the joy of creating something cool and never using it, the danger factor is too high. It's not worth the risk.

    I should add that I'm Canadian, and outside of the deep prairies we don't really have many gun lovers here, so my views are impacted by that. Second of all, I've watched the shootings in my city (Toronto) skyrocket in the past few years thanks to guns imported illegally from the US which really pisses me off. You guys are getting British Columbia's sweet, sweet weed and in exchange we're getting murder weapons. Not a fair trade.

  • John

    The main purpose of a gun is to fire bullets.

    It's not up to you personally to decide what the implied primary target it.

  • NateMan

    Irrelevant. The 'main purpose' of anything matters much less than the purpose it's actually put to. The bullets I fire into a paper target (or animal during hunting season) aren't hurting another person. The vodka that makes someone crash their car does. The 200 horsepower an inexperienced driver can't control does. The steak knife I use to carve my dinner and someone else stabs their spouse with does. And yet I don't attempt to limit your access to vodka, cars, or steak knives; only the purposes you put them to.

    The fun of guns isn't merely in shooting them. It's in taking care of them. It's having the financial ability to own them. And in being able to use them any time of daylight that I want, not just when the range is open. And yes, I hunt besides. Can't do that with a rented gun. Might as well ask why anyone owns a classic car instead of renting one, or a video game console instead of hitting the arcade.

    It's not worth the risk to YOU. And for that reason you never need own a gun if that's what you choose. Like abortion, drug use, and gay marriage, you're never forced to participate in anything you don't want to do. That doesn't mean you have the right to stop other people from doing so, if it's not causing you direct harm.

  • Nicole_OCTV

    I said above that I have no problem with people owning guns for hunting, like rifles, as long as they go through the proper channels, but you don't shoot Bambi with a 9mm. I'm talking about handguns specifically.

    You can't equate the sale of things that have the potential to hurt people with the sale of things specifically designed to hurt people. It's not the same and pretending that it is doesn't make it so.

    As for the risk argument, how many people who were shot in the past year were shot with their own gun? Almost none? I'm not worried about my non-existent gun going off accidentally and shooting me in the face. There are thousands of people every year who killed by guns and I doubt they'd agree with the fact that they had any choice in the matter. Just because something is fun for some doesn't mean that it's worth the risk to society as a whole. And yes, I do think it's fair to ask gun enthusiasts to compromise and only shoot rented guns at a range during certain hours in order to significantly lessen the chance of someone getting drunk at 2am and shooting their neighbor or their wife.

  • NateMan

    I said above that I have no problem with people owning guns for hunting, like rifles, as long as they go through the proper channels, but you don't shoot Bambi with a 9mm. I'm talking about handguns specifically.

    So? You can and some people do hunt some species with a pistol. I don't, but that's my choice. So long as they're not hurting an innocent person with it, what does it matter why they bought it?

    You can't equate the sale of things that have the potential to hurt people with the sale of things specifically designed to hurt people. It's not the same and pretending that it is doesn't make it so.

    Of course I can. Every year 3x more people are killed in traffic accidents than gun violence. In the past decade 2 friends of mine have been killed by drunk drivers. My uncle drank himself to death. Cancer from cigarette smoking killed another one. Are they somehow less dead because the things that killed them weren't intended to kill them? A gun used safely is no more dangerous than a car used safely, and in fact statistics suggest it's much less so. Your inherent prejudice doesn't change that.

    As for the risk argument, how many people who were shot in the past year were shot with their own gun? Almost none? I'm not worried about my non-existent gun going off accidentally and shooting me in the face. There are thousands of people every year who killed by guns and I doubt they'd agree with the fact that they had any choice in the matter. Just because something is fun for some doesn't mean that it's worth the risk to society as a whole.

    Again, if the question is one of numbers and risk to society, there are many things more dangerous than gun ownership. 280 million guns in the US; 9400 gun murders, according to lowercase_ryan. There are 254 million cars in the US; there were over 33,000 deaths for the same time period. Over 10,000 of them were due to drunk drivers. If you really want to talk about risk to society, we should talk about that.

    And yes, I do think it's fair to ask gun enthusiasts to compromise and only shoot rented guns at a range during certain hours in order to significantly lessen the chance of someone getting drunk at 2am and shooting their neighbor or their wife.

    Of course you do. Because it's not important to you, and because you have the preconceived notion that gun owners are drunk and violent. The actual numbers don't back you up, but we'll get back to that. I assume you support the closing of all bars, and the banning of alcohol at restaurants and all public engagements? After all, if they only drink at home, they'll never kill anybody on the road. And stopping drunk driving will save significantly more people than stopping legal gun owners from keeping their guns at home; 1 out every 80 drivers has had a drunk driving offense.

    You 're concerned about guns, because they're made to kill things. But you're less concerned about what ACTUALLY kills people. That's a problem of perception vs. reality, Nicole. It's like thinking every man is a rapist because most rapists are male, and it's simply not true. And just as it's not true that gun equals murder, murder does not equal gun. 1/3 of all murders are committed by other means. It's safe to assume a significant portion of murders committed with guns would have been committed without them as well. Guns make it easier to kill people, it's true. But they're not required.

    Finally, despite growing numbers of firearms in the US, homicide rates continue to go down.The 2009 homicide rate was lower than it's been since 1964.

    So, in conclusion: guns are inherently dangerous. I fully admit that. But they're clearly not as dangerous as you think they are. They're less of a threat than many everyday items available with less regulation and control than firearms. Despite their overwhelming prevalence, they're used to kill fewer people every year outside armed conflicts between our nation and others. While we focus our national attention on the admittedly tragic deaths every time an innocent person gets shot, we have a terrible tendency to ignore the other violent deaths that happen, often with more frequency, at the very same time. Perhaps it's time to look at what actually actually hurts the people around us, rather than what your prejudice suggests.

  • "Of course I can. Every year 3x more people are killed in traffic accidents than gun violence. In the past decade 2 friends of mine have been killed by drunk drivers. My uncle drank himself to death. Cancer from cigarette smoking killed another one. Are they somehow less dead because the things that killed them weren'tintended to kill them? A gun used safely is no more dangerous than a car used safely, and in fact statistics suggest it's much less so. Your inherent prejudice doesn't change that."

    I dunno - if those numbers are right that's actually pretty damning to your argument, I'd say, considering how often the average person rides in a car vs. how often the average person is in the presence of a gun.

  • NateMan

    In some ways, yes; most people spend significantly more time in cars than they do actively using guns. But there are still more guns in the country than passenger cars. There are 50 million legal gun owners, most of whom have families, so figure that a good 100 million+ people live in a house with a gun. Many gun deaths are the acts of criminals with illegal weapons. It seems to me in both statistical analysis and sheer numbers, you've got a better chance of living with a gun than you do driving down the road.

    Guns are certainly dangerous. But acting as though they're somehow more dangerous on their own than any number of basic items and activities is an untruthful way to behave. It's not about the gun, any more than it's about the drink. It's about the individual using it. Most gun owners are responsible people who have never shot another person and have no intention of doing so. Treating them as otherwise based on the behavior of a few is unfair.

  • ljridley

    My partner owns several. He isn't really a gun nut in that he doesn't really believe in the primacy of the second amendment, but he does like his guns. He likes them the way he likes cars and motorcycles, I don't think it goes any deeper than that. He likes to target shoot (in our abandoned pool). He would say the same thing, that a handgun is designed for killing people and arguments to the contrary are stupid, but he still likes them.

  • Miley's Virus

    Shooting in an abandoned pool is very dangerous. Shooting at any hard surface, like cement, can cause ricochet, after which the bullet or shot can end up just about anyplace. If you live in even a moderately populated area (have neighbors within 300 yards or so from your house) and you don't have sandbags or something like them behind the target then it's pretty much the same as shooting in random directions. Even if you have no close neighbors the inside of a pool is a terrible place to shoot. He'd be far better off setting up a target in the woods where ricochet off trees tends to be less severe. I've had shot bounce back off of a clay pigeon and hit me and that thing is designed to break at impact.

  • ljridley

    It isn't a hard surface, it's more like very densely packed sand. We also don't have close neighbors. He can be dumb, but he isn't that dumb. On the other hand, I don't know that it is strictly legal either.

  • The gun lobby is one of the two poster children of our cultural decadence, where we believe in our own rights over any others and will accept no consideration of limits. Their inability to embrace legitimate controls on handguns and assault-type weaponry is not simply whiny. It's immoral, cruel and denigrating.

    Oh, the other poster child is the helicopter mom who justifies owning a giant SUV because she feels safer (with her brood), even though physics and regulations make that vehicle more dangerous to everyone around her, including her kids' friends. [This one is more insidious because the fix isn't quite as straightforward as gun registries and waiting periods, and outright bans for assault weapons.]

  • zeke_the_pig

    Good. To those who complain about him saying those words in that arena - 'politics-free' shouldn't be a phrase. Politics is life; in some cases, such as gun control, it is doubly, painfully so. Besides, this wasn't some bullshit partisan rhetoric or party flag-waving; it was a common expression of humanity that every sensible motherfucker should get behind.

  • Guest

    "Even if you are not political, politics will come to you."

    - Aung San Suu Kyi

  • zeke_the_pig

    Truer words never spoken

  • Jon Stewart will frame up the hypocrisy of criticizing Costas, since the NFL (the most among all professional sports in the US) grandstands for the flag-waving, support-the-troops, faux-patriotism jingo nonsense. We've made football, a sport I played with passion as a youngster, into a gladiatorial spectacle of extreme violence and unthinking, hyper-specialized, substitution-driven monotony, and it should be no surprise that the players have become both sacrificial to the braying public and vulnerable to the demons of this very isolating, de-humanizing way of plying their particular skills.

  • pajiba


  • Guest


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