Bob Costas isn’t backing down; rather, he’s explaining

December 5, 2012

(Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images)

Bob Costas continued to explain his “Sunday Night Football” commentary on the murder-suicide committed by the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jovan Belcher, but that didn’t do much to lessen criticism of his decision to speak out about guns.

One comment in particular — “if Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and [his girlfriend] Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today” – kept Costas the topic of conversation.

On his Fox “Talking Points Memo,” Bill O’Reilly called for stronger punishment for criminals who use handguns, while criticizing Costas and the Fox Sports column by Jason Whitlock that Costas cited:

There will always be people like Mr. Belcher who lose control. And you cannot disarm the entire American population to combat madness. It would be madness to even try that.

And the past 10 years there has been an increase in the number of handguns in America. There may be 100 million of them in circulation right now. But there has been a decrease in handgun crime. 10 years ago there are about 7,000 handgun murders. Last year the number was about 6,000 it is quite understandable that people are reacting emotionally to this terrible crime in Kansas City.

But the problem America has is not law abiding citizens possessing weapons. That’s not damaging the nation. Crimes committed with handguns and out-of-control people — that’s what’s hurting the USA. You’ll never stop crimes of madness, you’re never going to stop them like the Kansas City situation.

But you can put violent criminals away for a long time if they use a gun during the commission of a crime. And that should be done.

Costas, who told Dan Patrick on Tuesday that he made a mistake in violating his own rule against attempting to compress complicated issues into brief air time, explained what he was trying to say on MSNBC’s “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.”  Costas noted that he “never mentioned the Second Amendment.” “I never used the words ‘gun control.’ People inferred that. Now, do I believe that we need more comprehensive and sensible gun control? Yes, I do. That doesn’t mean repeal the Second Amendment.”

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Belcher shot Perkins to death Saturday morning with what police confirmed was a legally registered gun, then committed suicide at the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium practice facility. Costas noted that “SNF” analyst Tony Dungy, a former NFL coach, once asked 80 football players at training camp how many owned guns and 65 raised a hand.

“Even if all those guns were obtained legally, you can’t have 65 guys in their 20s – aggressive young men subject to impulses, without something bad happening,” Costas said. “… Give me one example of an athlete – I know it’s happened in society – give me one example of an athlete by virtue of his having a gun, took a dangerous situation and turned it around for the better. I can’t think of a single one. Sadly, I can think of dozens that by virtue of having a gun, a professional athlete wound up in a tragic situation.” 

Costas was criticized for seeming to place the blame on the gun and not on Belcher. “No one is saying that Belcher is not responsible. However, the ready easy availability of guns makes mayhem easier. The easy availability of guns makes this sort of thing far more likely to occur.”  

Costas wasn’t backing down from his Sunday night comments about what he says is gun culture.

“It demonstrates itself in the Wild West, Dirty Harry mentality of people who actually believe that if a number of people were armed in the theater in Aurora, they would have been able to take down this nut-job in body armor and military-style artillery,” he said. “It plays itself out in the inner cities, where teenage kids are somehow armed to the hilt. And it plays itself in the sports world, where young athletes are disproportionately armed.” 

Here’s his original commentary:

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More on the Belcher tragedy

Report: Belcher shot girlfriend, then kissed her and apologized

Costas says he made “a mistake”

Costas clarifies, Chiefs talk about guns

Watch: Brady Quinn’s eloquent comments

Costas advocates stronger gun control

Erik Wemple: Sports outlets treat politics with care

“Normal couple stuff” before murder-suicide

Chiefs set grief aside for a game against Carolina

Belcher’s murder/suicide leaves Chiefs reeling

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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Cindy Boren · December 5, 2012

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