I was surprised that Bob Costas (hereafter to be known as CluelessCostas) went on an anti-gun rant at halftime during the December 2 Sunday Night Football broadcast. He usually, I thought, does better research than that. At least, I thought that before now. Since I don't know the facts of the stories he reports, I have always considered him to be a reliable source, but this venture into knee-jerk reaction without a shred of research makes me wonder if I've gotten the straight story from him on other issues.
His editorial took the position that if Jovan Belcher had not had a gun, he would not have been able to commit murder or suicide. This is nonsense on the face of it. Fists, feet, knives (can anyone say O.J.?) and other tools can and are used to commit murder. In fact, the FBI categorizes all those as instruments of murder in its Uniform Crime Reports.
To see CluelessCostas blithely skip into the middle of this tragedy with such shallow and demonstrably false assumptions belies his reputation as a heretofore respected reporter.
The mountain of evidence to contradict his anti-gun assertions looms large and would have been easy to find. Take just two points which belie the charge that the gun drives suicides and murders.
First, there is the comparison with Japan. That island-nation prohibits most citizens from owning guns. It would be the perfect Petri dish for showing how suicides can be prevented by banning guns. The reality turns that on its head, since the suicide rate in Japan approaches (sometimes exceeds) twice that of the U.S. No guns in Japan, but twice the rate of suicides of the U.S., which has perhaps 300 million guns.
Second, there is the example in the U.S. of the effect (or lack of effect) on murder rates when people carry loaded guns. Twenty years ago few states had laws permitting citizens to carry loaded firearms for their protection. After Florida passed what is known as "shall-issue" concealed carry (requiring the state to issue a permit to any qualified applicant), almost all states followed. In that 20-year period the number of people with carry permits has grown beyond six million, plus several states which require no permit at all for a person to carry a gun for protection.
Over a nearly identical time span, the murder rate in the United States has fallen dramatically. There are millions more guns, millions more gun owners, and millions more people carrying guns for protection, but the murder rate has fallen by nearly half. Even if one doesn't believe that the concealed carry movement actually caused this drop, it would be difficult for anyone to ignore that -- at a minimum -- adding millions of guns, gun owners, and concealed carry participants did not increase the murder rate, which is what CluelessCostas would have you believe.
Should we really be surprised at this? Probably not. CluelessCostas is from New York, has armed security protecting him, and appears to be convinced in the truth of his own ignorance-based bias. Further, he describes himself as a liberal, as he did in a May 26, 2007 opinion piece declaring President Bush to be unqualified for the office. We never are surprised when the clueless elite call attention to themselves by dancing in the blood of innocents. For some reason, I expected more of Costas, though on reflection, I'm not sure why.
As responsible gun owners, and as members of the Gun Talk Truth Squad where we never just shrug and let lies go unchallenged, what can we do about this widely-broadcast screed? Speak up.
First step would be to send an email with your thoughts to the NFL, which produced this game. Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
, as a start. Next, talk about this with your friends. Some of them won't know the facts I've related above, and will react to Costas with "well, that sounds reasonable." The notion that the earth is flat was reasonable until it faced research and scientific fact. The research and the science show us that more guns in the U.S. equals less crime.
Respond with cogent comments to every online news story about the Costas rant. Well-mannered comments, backed with specific facts, do change opinions.
Speak up at every opportunity. Bring the facts to this discussion and you'll often be met with "I didn't know that." Speaking the truth, with the facts to back it up, is what the Gun Talk Truth Squad is all about.
To stay silent is to agree. To leave this lie unchallenged it to allow it to become the truth.
-- Tom Gresham