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December 3rd, 2012
10:17 AM ET

A gun control halftime show: Should Bob Costas have spoken out on Belcher suicide?

There are a few things you can usually expect out of an NFL halftime show. A debate about gun control isn't one of them.

But Sunday wasn't a normal day in the NFL. It was two days after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend and the mother of his child, before killing himself outside the front door of the Chiefs' practice facility.

It was shocking. And it was expected that this tragedy would seep through into Sunday's football coverage.

But many people were not expecting Bob Costas to make a plea for gun control.

During halftime of NBC's "Sunday Night Football," Costas blamed the nation's gun culture for what happened between Belcher and his girlfriend, remarks that set off a heated debate about whether the sportscaster should have launched into what some called a "rant" on gun control.

Here's a transcript of Costas' comments:

"Well, you know that it was coming. In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again: Something like this really puts it all in perspective.

Well, if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games. Please, those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective.

You want some actual perspective on this? Well, a bit of it comes from a Kansas City based-writer, Jason Whitlock, with whom I do not always agree but who today said it so well today that we may as well as quote or paraphrase from the end of his article.

‘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 teenaged boys bloody 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 connections 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." (You can read Whitlock's column here.)

Costas' remarks seemed to send the Internet into an immediate feeding frenzy.  Was it appropriate for him to talk about a political issue during a sports show? What is the right forum for this kind of discussion? Was he only saying what everyone else was already thinking? The comments kept flying:

Costas declined to comment on his remarks.

Gun control has always been divisive. If you remember, it had been practically impossible to get the presidential candidates to talk about the issue. "Saturday Night Live" even mocked the candidates' avoidance of it during a skit on the presidential debates.

There was equal outrage online Sunday regarding CBS' football preshow, which took five minutes before mentioning the tragedy and seemed to feature more about a Victoria's Secret fashion show and hard-hitting commentary about the color of the anchors' ties instead of a serious issue.

The main point here may be you can't please everybody. There will always be critics when it comes to an issue that sparks such intense debate. But does that mean you don't even touch it? Or did Costas' comments do exactly what he may have intended reigniting the debate over gun control?

Opinion: Manhood, football and suicide

Let us know how you feel about Costas' remarks in the polls below and sound off in the comments. We'd love to hear your take on the issue.

soundoff (1,256 Responses)
  1. Paul

    On November 30th, all the guns lovers would have screamed for the rights of Jovan Belcher to own his guns, as on that day, he was still a member of the club: The "responsible gun owers club". Every murderer is a member of this club, his gun rights to be defending to the hilt, until the day that he/she commits these murders and they are suddenly one of the "others", not at all like a "responsible gun owner." Costas is entirely correct, more people toting around the most effiective killing device equates to more people killed.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • RetMarine

      Paul,
      What is the average response time of the police where you live? I live in an area where there is a reasonable amount of crime; I had a break in while my family was home in our house. It took the police over 14 minutes to respond; If not for my guns in my home and OUR Second Amendment Right to have them, who knows what, would have happened to me or my family in the safety of our own home. Is this story the exception and not the norm, maybe; but remember the police are minutes away when seconds matter.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mark

    I happen to live in a country with strict gun laws. We are just as safe, or safer, than the US. We do not need guns to protect ourselves – that is left to the police in most cases, and because guns are harder to acquire, the number of tragedies from unstable people is lower. I go to a shooting range from time to time. Guns *are* fun. No question. But, they are *not needed* by regular people on a day to day basis for protection. That is a false argument. The cons far outweigh the pros.

    For some unfathomable reason, the US seems unable to realize this. And although the US certainly doesn't want or need anyone to feel sorry for them, the fact of the matter is that many of us do feed sad about it, that things like this keep happening over and over again to your great nation. So many of these gun stories don't involve quote/unquote criminals (as the NRA keeps putting forth in their protection arguments)...they involve regular people who have snapped.

    Change those outdated laws and get rid of the damned things. Society will not collapse in upon itself if you do. Just because it is a right, doesn't mean that it IS right. This is senseless.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      Mark, if you are happy in your country with "strict gun laws", then stay there and spare us your ignorant thoughts regarding gun control. We here in the US are guaranteed our right to bear arms by our constitution and are grateful for that right. If you or anyone else thinks the US would be safer if it banned all guns then simply look at the UK and Australia. Both countries banned most types of legally held guns forcing their citizens to turn them in for destruction. What happened next?... crime increased dramatically in the following years. Why? Because now the only people with guns were the criminals. Outlawing guns ensures that only outlaws will have them.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • RetMarine

      Mark,
      You left out what country you live in, I am curious

      December 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Sorry Mark, since you don't live in this country, and guessing that is because you aren't an American, I can understand why you think the way you do. Your opinion doesn't count. We as Americans make the decisions for our country and I would never dream of telling you or your country how to live. America was founded on the principles of freedom and prtection from oppression. That is why our ancestors probably left your country

      December 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Frank

    How many more senseless deaths must we endure before we come to our senses and demand that our government confiscate anything that one person could use to kill another person?!

    December 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Yeah, maybe the worst idea of all time.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • really lol

      So does that mean they should take away my kitchen knives, hammers and power tools, blunt force object, hands, cars, boats, or basically anything anyone owns?

      December 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. PURPLELICIOUS

    This is a sad story to hear about a YOUNG man not only taking his life but taking the life of a young woman for some no good reason and selfishly leaving behind a little girl w/o parents to raise her.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Name*jeff Weafer

    Bob Costas was not offering an opinion, he was stating the facts. Thank you Mr. Costas for having the courage to speak the truth. Why does preventing the senseless loss of life have to be a political issue.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RetMarine

    Here is an odd stat from 2008; guns related murders out numbered stabbing murders nearly 9 to 1, gun related murders out numbered other means (beating, assaults with blunt objects, choking, kicking) nearly 10 to 1.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. old big

    fire him. not because he doesn't have the right to say things about gun control, but because he PO'd a large segment of the NBC Sports audience.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Sherri

    I keep hearing this argument that it is people who do the killing and not the guns.

    Really, if a person doesn't have a gun, the chances of someone dying due to the heat of the moment is greatly reduced. People are unpredictable, and frankly, I would rather not give someone a gun, who might use it in a fit of temper.

    Look at countries who have gun control, the murder rate is so reduced, but the bigger issue here is that Americans just want their right to a gun, they won't take it further to see if they should really have it.

    If someone really wants to kill, they will find a way, but at least consider limiting the "killing in the moment" murders by reforming your gun control laws.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      I shouldn't have to give up my right to defend myself and my family against mentality challenged people because of others who are not responsible with there actions. And I will not trust the government to rid everyone of these weapons because let's face it...it won't happen.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • RetMarine

      Sherri,
      That is interesting? But where do you really draw the line? I am a gun owner and I am also a 23 year veteran of the US Marine Corps. I am what I consider an average man; 5’11” tall, 223 pounds so what would be an “in the heat of the moment” weapon? If provoked a desk lamp, or a golf club, or really anything that is available is an effective weapon. What about maybe revamping our Death Penalty Laws instead of more gun reform …hmmm, maybe enacting the sentence of the inmates on death row a bit more promptly, this could have an effect on people on the outside who are considering committing crimes.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Name john BM

    Mr costas dose have a right to his opinion, However having spent 27 years as a police officer I have seen death by firearms
    By knives , by vehicles, both by accident and not. By clubs, bats, pipes, and trains, but that is life, don't take my rights to any of those items because of one mentally ill or drug induced incident.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DJS NJ

    Costas is a sports commentator... He should use the mic that is given to him for sports related topics... He has been corrupted by his celebrity as has many other celebs . It takes a few years but once they have established themselves the mouth starts running where it would not have early in thier career when the were still afraid it might hurt thier career... they believe thier opinion is more important than the non celeb or common folks...

    December 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. toofarawayfromboston

    Bob Costas' comments were spot on. Many turned on their tvs to watch a football game and be entertained; however, many seem to forget that sports represent a microcosm of our society and, therefore, it was pertinent for Bob Costas to comment – and for all of us to think. If this can bring domestic violence, mental health, and gun control to a place where we can all meet and agree, or even compromise a bit then, just perhaps, Kasandra and Jovan did not die in vain – and a little girl can grow up seeing that something good can arise from tragedy. If more of us cared as much for others as we do about being entertained by a football game, this world would be a better place.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. theagkidd

    It is not gun control that needs to be addressed it is the gun culture.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Doug

    If you look at the numbers, people don't commit these types of crimes with other types of weapons. Its just not as easy. We need gun control to keep us safe. I agree with Bob Costas.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bud

    Move along nothing new to see here, just another celebrity giving his opinion on a political subject that he has nothing to do with.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. TTommy

    Are you kidding me? That guy could have killed himself and his wife in any number of ways. Do we ban knives and bow and arrows because of the two recent rage incidents? I couldn't care less how Bob Costas feels about guns. I have a concealed handgun license, and I carry. I hope never to have to use my weapon, but I will to protect myself and my family. If Costas thinks he'll have the opportunity to debate the merits of gun control when some bad guy is pointing a gun at him some day, good luck to him. I'll take my chances with my own weapon.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
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