[NBC’s Bob] Costas quoted Kansas City-based columnist Jason Whitlock, who wrote yesterday that he believed both [Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan] Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, would be alive today were it not for Belcher’s possession of a gun:
‘Our current gun culture,’ Whitlock wrote, ‘ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy. And more convenience store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. 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. In the coming days, Jovan Belcher’s actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed. Who knows? But here,’ wrote Jason Whitlock, ‘is what I believe — if Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.’
Conservatives and gun advocates are, of course, angry at Costas’ insinuation, via Whitlock, that gun control could have prevented the murder of Kasandra Perkins. Fox & Friends blasted Costas this morning, with co-host Brian Kilmeade relying on the tried-and-true point that follows every outbreak of gun violence this country has. “I just don’t know if it’s appropriate enough on a Sunday night, less than 24 hours after this guy took his own life and killed his girlfriend and the mother of his baby, to make that stance,” Kilmeade said. “I don’t think we needed to hear that last night.”
When, then, is the appropriate time to talk about gun violence? According to gun advocates, it wasn’t after another black teenager was shot in a parking lot because he was listening to loud music. It wasn’t after another mass murder at one of our schools, shopping malls, or movie theaters. It wasn’t in a year when another 11,000 Americans lost their lives to firearms, or in a country where 1,800 women like Kasandra Perkins are killed in gun disputes and another 5,000 are treated for assault-related gunshot wounds every year. It wasn’t during presidential debates. It wasn’t after Trayvon Martin was killed for wearing a hoodie, after Jared Lee Loughner shot a member of Congress in the head, after the Dark Knight Rises theater shooting, or after the latest murderous weekend in one of our nation’s biggest cities. So if those weren’t the right times, and this isn’t either, when? Which high-profile murder, suicide, or mass killing will be the one that gets us to talk?
Perhaps, if Jovan Belcher didn’t own a gun, he would have found another way to kill Kasandra Perkins and himself. Or perhaps he wouldn’t have. Having a gun in the home, after all, increases both the risk of homicide and suicide, and 60 percent of our nation’s homicides are committed with guns.
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