And I don’t say that as a right wing conservative flunky, I don’t say that as a second amendment junkie loathed to see people’s rights taken away, nor am I an NRA supporter, I’m not even looking at this as a hunting or sport shooting enthusiast; I say that because no, Mr. Costas, no Mr. Whitlock, we don’t know that Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins would still be alive if he had not legally owned a hand gun, strikingly apparent in this case because the presence of another person in the room did not stop him from both killing her, leaving the area, then getting into his car to drive to the practice field, killing himself in front of his coach. That’s right, this time, unlike so many others where a man goes berserk on his wife, girlfriend, mother of his child after an argument in their residence alone, with only the neighbors to hear the screaming, Belcher’s mother was there to witness at least the shooting. Even if we did have forensic evidence, witness statements to corroborate that theory, we are still asking the wrong question, coming at the debate, the issue, once again, from the wrong direction. The bigger question, the bigger debate is what made him want to hurt his girlfriend; obviously it can be inferred one of the reasons he wanted to kill himself is because he killed his girlfriend, but were there other signs and symptoms of a problem? The larger question how do we identify people with these types of problems and prevent the tragedy? Meanwhile Bob Costas has been flayed by right leaning media such as Fox news for so much as daring to suggest we revisit gun laws across the nation, for quoting sports writer and radio personality Jason Whitlock’s opinion on citizen owned guns in the 21st century as opposed to the 18th comments that read as follows:“Our current gun culture, Whitlock wrote, ‘ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy. And that 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 to 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, writes Jason Whitlock, is what I believe. If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would still be alive today.” Independent of if Mr. Costas is removed from the air, the gun debate is once again on in America.
Click link to hear Bob Costas’ quote along with his defense of his words; notice he mentions a need for more time to discuss other solutions. But as you read through this article notice how many sentences or not it takes to say reengineering our mental health system, redefining our social awareness before we talk about gun laws.
Highlighting a different view Glen Beck has a point; the second amendment, continuing to allow the second amendment as it pertains to citizens owning guns, has nothing to do with the negative mentalities of the culture we live in today. Whether this is another tragic case of domestic violence or a football related brain injury, no, it does not go to a gun culture; it goes to a culture of violence and until we get to the core of preventing that violence, we won’t solve the problem. Similarly the blond on Fox new was right as well, it is living in a fantasy land to think if we waved a wand tomorrow making guns illegal we would have, she said world peace, but neither would we have national peace, nor a decrease in violence over all, a phenomenon we do have evidence for; London England banned citizen owned hand guns after a school shooting there. While gun crime went down by a staggering percentage, knife crimes went up by almost the same staggering percentage, most notably culminating in the death of a Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince movie extra. Tracing the source of many of the guns used to commit either type of crime over and over they were taken or outright stolen from legal, law abiding gun owners like the 2 school shooters who lured classmates out of the building using the fire alarm and shot people using hunting rifles stolen from their grandfather; the Oklahoma mall shooter took the gun he used from his stepdad’s gun cabinet. Changing gun law isn’t going to stop those kinds of scenarios. To say nothing of the number of instances of violence where there wasn’t a gun present at all including a man hacked to death in the Midwest with a machete, the person who used a pencil, a knife, then a chainsaw to attack people at the New Life Evangelistic Center in Missouri. Looking at purely domestic violence cases, repeatedly women have been set on fire, had acid or other corrosive chemicals thrown in their faces outside their place of work; headline making case of college campus domestic abuse, GeorgeHuguely and Yeardley Love. Ms. Love dies after getting into an argument with Huguely who subsequently bounced her head off the wall leaving her face down on her dorm room bed where she died of the resulting head injury, no gun involved.
Further how many times in dealing with shooters, mass or otherwise, do we find out after the fact they possessed lengthy histories including runs ins with either school mental health services, law enforcement or both; how many times do we discover ex post facto just how many signs of a mental health issue there were that were never paid adequate attention to, and had that mental illness been properly addressed, the tragedy that took place would not have? HadSeung Cho, JaredLoughner, James Holmes been committed to a psychiatric facility on the grounds they were a potential threat to self or others, findings there was ample evidence of, for all names mentioned, they would not have been out in society to commit their crimes until they were mentally healthy enough not to want to commit them in the first place, maybe never, and having been involuntarily committed, having been diagnosed with a legitimate mental disturbance, would immediately lose their legal right to obtain a gun. Instead even after a court ordered psychological evaluation in 2005 where the psychologist noticed a flat affect, depressed mood and Cho’s repeated denial of a thought disorder, he was still allowed to return to school despite frightening students and staff, still legally allowed to purchase a gun leading to the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. Mr. Loughner arguably lives in one of the easiest states to have someone remitted to mental health services, yet no one, not school counseling at his community college, teachers unnerved by his behavior or police continually called to deal with his outbursts, dialed the hotline or used their legal authority to submit him to a basic psych exam. When he finally was barred from school pending said evaluation, he simply dropped out of school into the community no warning, no supervision, no protection for the public resulting in the 2011 Arizona shooting most notable for injuring congress woman Gabrielle Giffords. By the time we get to Mr. Holmes schools had assembled teams to handle potential threats, but again, it did little good; he was seeing a school psychiatrist specializing in schizophrenia, she was at one point so concerned about his behavior she contacted the school’s team, and once more when he dropped out of school he dropped into the community unnoticed to kill a double digit number of people in a darkened movie theater location Aurora, Colorado summer 2012.
Worse are the cases where a person has a diagnosed mental health disorder, a clear mental health history still managing to perpetrate violence regardless of if a gun was used or not; example student off his depression medication shoots up his college campus, schizophrenic man barges into local hospital psych ward demands help or he will go out and shoot people, he is allowed to leave the hospital, seeing as he came in possessing no weapons, and that very night shoots at least one law enforcement officer and leads police on a high speed chase. Social rhetoric also plays a role in the violence we see blighting our headlines particularly the shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple and the shooting at the Family Values Resource Center headquarters possibly sparked by the owner if Chic Filet’s sudden, publicized, outspoken opposition to homosexuality, and we’re talking about the gun, not the need to reengineer our mental health system, refine our social awareness, not the need to stop blaming individual ethnicities for our lack of jobs or needlessly provoke people with opposing views like the restaurant owner did. All we want to talk about is the gun, which is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as it is sinking, utterly pointless. Bringing us to the other half of gun violence political commentators like Ed Shultz tried to encompass in the conversation by mentioning the gun crime, shootings currently coursing through Chicago’s streets; however there you are speaking of a completely different element, the criminal element contributing to gun violence a related but entirely separate issue, both as it pertains to the since labeled provocative comments of Bob Costas, remaining absolutely unaffected by gun law absent total prohibition and overall violence where a gun was part of the equation. What is happening there involves illegally obtained guns used by people who are already in a gang, using drugs, perfectly willing to commit criminal acts to serve their agenda, people who also have no problem making some sort of gun from a mold using welding and other equipment, who can find the kind of cash to pay off police officers should we ever live in an American society where law enforcement are the only persons allowed to carry guns.
Click here to listen to Ed Shultz’s take on our “gun culture” and gun legislation he and others think needs to be in place to prevent senseless tragedies.
Returning to this case specifically where a Kansas City Chiefs football player killed his girlfriend then himself, there are no publicized reports saying Jovan Belcher had a history of mental illness, a history of violence, a criminal record. No, young male testosterone, a violent sport and ownership of a gun do not make a positive combination, but it does not always end in tragedy, because every football player at the professional level who owns a gun does not end up killing himself or others. Added support for the gun being secondary to violence center around conceal and carry laws; since conceal and carry was passed in a multitude of areas, there has not been a huge uptick in gun violence. Nor is it arsenals of guns held by cult fanatics, survivalists believing they are preparing for the end of the world; the Sikh temple shooter was on the FBI’s radar not for owning an excessive amount of guns, for illegal activities but rather for his radical views almost too far out even for his ties to a large number of white supremacy groups, who promptly distanced themselves after the attack. Bringing us back to the impracticality of gun prohibition, the holes in any gun legislation we could create; in addition to never quite being able to stop the criminal element from possessing or making some type of gun, compounding the issues of your always going to have an unscrupulous gun seller, complicating background checks under changed names, extremely old or brand new arrest records not yet put into databases, alleged movie theater shooter James Holmes bought most of his guns, ammunition off the internet. And even if you managed to unite a majority of westernized nations into better regulating what can and cannot be, what is and isn’t, bought and sold on the internet, similar to the international copyright laws passed in the 1970’s, it only means sellers who sold the types of guns, ammo and supplies bought by Mr. Holmes, gravitated towards by those who commit mass shootings, will move their operations, IP addresses to tiny countries most of us have never heard of but are still accessible with a basic Google search, proving once again why talking only about the gun is profoundly useless.
No, Bob Costas does not deserve to be fired for his on air comments no matter how inappropriate some may find them in reference to time and place; however he is, and should be, being called out, by whatever faction of the media, for being wrong. Do we need to do something about the estimated 40% of gun sales done without a background check, yes, but not before we do something about the utter lack of mental health services given to the people who need it most; do we need to make sure background checks for potential gun owners are as complete and thorough as possible, yes, do we need make sure assault rifles do not make it into the hands of criminals or madmen, yes, but not before we talk about what leads them to violence in the first place. Remember George Zimmerman, now infamous for shooting an unarmed teen, had nothing more than misdemeanor run-ins with the law. Do we need to talk about closing loopholes in gun laws, yes, but not before we talk about the root causes of domestic violence, not before we talk about the direction of our political, social conversation that insight people to violence whether they use a gun or other weapon. Then there are the unadulterated facts behind why we are such a “gun crazy, gun attached society;” outside a rich tradition of culture and heritage involving hunting, sport shooting, outside of antique gun collecting and the pride of passing on aforementioned skill, family history, people own guns for protection, to feel safe, to feel empowered, not from their government, as Mr. Whitlock pointed out drawing contrasts between the 17-1800’s vs. now in the complete article from which Bob Costas took his quote, rather from fellow citizens, the exact crazies we see on the news. Whether you are a woman just out of a bad relationship, young female just starting out and living in a bad neighborhood, or all of 98 pounds soaking wet, you may own a gun. Whether you live in a house or an apartment, affluent suburb, upscale neighborhood, you may own a gun to protect your family from the maniacs that keep popping up no matter what state you live in, no matter the kind of neighborhood you reside in. Certain types of business owners see owning a gun as a matter of survival; convenience stores have had guns behind the counter for years sick of being robbed right, left and center. Part of the popularity, the desire for conceal and carry laws comes from people who see these mass shootings and want to have a way to do something, have a way to defend themselves should they ever be in that situation, who honestly think they could save lives if they had a gun on them to stop the person. Bob Costas can call it the dirty Harry, cowboy mentality, but there it is; people don’t feel like police are willing, capable to help them, keep them safe so they have to do it themselves.
Subsequently why people pick up guns to make their point is a lot more multifaceted than easy access to guns; beyond the mass shooters who are clinically psychotic or delusional at the time they commit the act, we live in a bureaucratic, red tape society seemingly designed to drive a sane person mad, we live in a culture where people feel like the only way they can be heard, people will listen to them is if they are holding a weapon, a gun being the most powerful legally obtainable weapon we have. Time and time again people who pick up guns are above all else desperate, shown by the middle aged man who opened fire on a school board meeting after placing a V for vendetta symbol on the wall in spray paint. Miraculously no one was injured during this scene; his motivation, they had fired his wife a teacher or substitute teacher, left them without health insurance and joining the millions of unemployed. How many times have persons holding guns appeared in local welfare and food stamp offices as they protest their benefits being cut off, show up at child services just wanting someone to understand they didn’t abuse their child, wanting them to understand what it’s like to be without their child? Sadder still is how many times that gun wielding parent, turns out, was telling the truth, was the victim of an overzealous social worker, a bitter ex-wife, vengeful husband, how many times the benefit recipient was subject to a paperwork glitch. All problems that need fixing on a social level not a legislative one, all problems, like the others mentioned, that go beyond the gun, beyond the weapon used.