RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–So big time sportscaster Bob Costas, quoting another sports columnist, blames the proliferation of handguns for Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher shooting his 22-year-old girlfriend – the mother of their newborn girl – and then shooting himself to death in front of his coaches this past Saturday.
“If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today,” Costas concluded.
Immediately, his commentary backfired and blew up on the internet.
So, is Bob Costas the idiot so many are making him out to be?
Yes, pretty much.
First off, so-called intimate homicides like this one have been on the decline for the past generation, particularly in terms of women killing their lovers.
And the number and percentage of times firearms are involved have also gone down.
And while guns are used in roughly three-quarters of intimate homicides, there are still plenty of women beaten or stabbed to death.
And when it comes to girlfriends killing boyfriends, knives are used more frequently than guns. (You can see the statistics here: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/intimates.cfm#intweap More recent studies are available online.)
The reason these intimate or domestic homicides are declining is many more men and women are paying attention to the warning signs, and are getting help.
Which Mr. Costas could’ve talked about, but didn’t.
Alba Jaramillo with the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance said the presence of a weapon, whether it’s a gun or knife or something else, is a big warning sign in an abusive or stormy relationship.
Another key warning sign is any kind of threat, particularly one in which the spouse or lover or ex- gives specific details how they plan to do it. Those who hit once will hit again, she said. And, she added, drugs and alcohol can trigger a violent reaction in a volatile or abusive relationship. The biggest danger period is immediately a breakup, which is why it’s crucial to find safe haven, she said.
If you have a sense or instinct of fear, Jaramillo said, “that’s there for a reason . . . you should listen to your gut.” Get help, she said, and know that you don’t have to break away by yourself. (The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance hotline is 800-838-8238. Their website is: http://www.vsdvalliance.org/)
But the real reason Costas is an idiot is because he suggests we can do something about the proliferation of handguns.
It hasn’t happened, and it won’t. The minute you start taking the guns away from citizens in any meaningful way is the same minute we have the second U.S. Revolution.
There is already one firearm for every man, woman and child in the U.S., and we’re still buying some 400 guns every minute here. And guns don’t go bad. They can last 100 years, no problem.
No, we’re not putting that genie back in the bottle.
And do you know what, Bob? Here in Virginia, gun violence is down despite surging firearms sales.
That said, you also have to be an idiot not to believe that guns make it all too easy to kill and maim – and to kill yourself. (Although only about half of all suicides are done with firearms.)
All it takes is a tiny burst of anger or mania and about five pounds of trigger pressure.
It takes a whole lot more commitment and personal involvement to beat or stab someone to death.
That said, my guess is this hard-hitting linebacker could have beaten his girlfriend to death in a few seconds. (It could be argued a firearm would be a much smaller woman’s best defense against an aggressive professional hitting machine like Belcher.)
Which is why the real solution is knowing and heeding the warning signs, avoiding that person and seeking help before they whip out a gun or a knife or a frying pan.
That’s my take; please share yours here on WTVR.com