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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. Nate

    good for you, Bob.

    right wing gun nuts have a monopoly on this debate, and it's not healthy to have reasonable voices on either side suppressed.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      They obviously don't have a monopoly on this debate, or this article and the thousands of others just like it that appear after each and every incident involving schools, politicians, or celebrities, wouldn't exist.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Funny you didn't say that when Hank Williams, Jr. was fired.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Right wing nuts don't have a monopoly on this issue. The MAJORITY OF AMERICANS are pro 2A and pro-gun ownership... so the MAJORITY of the country has a monopoly. It is not our fault that a large urban faction of this country are afraid of being responsible for themselves and have this illusion that the magical police will always be there when they need them to help. The MAJORITY of the country who enjoy the ability to protect themselves don't want to hear your impulsive excuses as to why they should not be able to continue to do what they responsibly have for generations.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Steve

    So Costa's goes on a rant about gun control. That last paragraph makes you wonder what he really know about guns: n 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." ...How does he know if Jovan and his girlfriend would be alive if Jovan didn't posses a gun? If a gun wasn't available, another type of weapon would have probably been used-knife(so all knives are controlled now!) baseball bat( there goes MLB with Costa's thinking!) Get real, what was the statement used long time ago" Guns don't kill people, people do".

    December 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Johnny T

      I think it was "Guns don't kill people, I kill people" on Richard Kiel's t-shirt.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brian

    A gun- is an inanimate object that has the mystical or magical ability, simply by being owned or held of turning many innocent non-violent people who have no other emotional issues, into a murderer who otherwise would not have lost their temper and hurt or murdered anyone!- Bob Costas (Paraphrase)

    December 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mark

    Yes, murders occur through other means than guns. If somone REALLY wants to kill someone else, they'll find a way. But the thing with guns, that Whitlock wrote about, is that they make these horrible acts of violence easier. It's an emotionally hard, visceral thing to get up close and personal to kill another person with a knife, bare-hands, etc. And it takes time – yes, even if a minute.

    Guns are a split-second decision, and you don't have to be as close. They take away those extra precious seconds that sometimes our minds need in order to consider the consequences of our rash actions. This is what he meant by them "...exacerbat[ing] our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it."

    They reduce/remove the filter needed for our mind to overrule our emotions. If killing were harder to do, fewer people would do it.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. jeff miller

    As a Canadian, its absoutly absurd to even fathom the need for so many handguns. Lets face it, in a domestic dispute case, how many men (or women) have hit their spouse only to realize after the first punch/slap their mistake? It's pretty hard to apologize or realize the error of your ways after the trigger is pulled the first time.
    Yes, many murders will still occur even without gun violence, but pulling of the trigger is a un-reversable act, and in the hands of so many people without common sense it is all too familiar.
    Kudos to Costas for bringing light to a subject in whatever forum is available.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark

      +1. This. Well said.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meki60

      'without common sense', like I said before, ban guns for black people.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • CAAD7

      Um, he shot her nine times. My guess is if he hit her nine time, being that he was an NFL player, she would still have died.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnny T

      Guns are never going to be banned in the U.S., not with an 89% gun per capita rate. USA! USA!
      But you make a good point about regret – only I would hope that most mentally sound people, even in moments of passion or rage, know the difference outcome between a hand versus a bullet. Anyone who can't make that judgement should be locked behind bars.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • James B

      Except this man did not stop at pulling the trigger once. He pulled it nine times.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mar

      You, Bob Costas and Jason whitlock are all incredibly ignorant about domestic violence. Matter of fact crimes against woman have gone down because we can now protect ourselves against big bully men. Talk about war on woman sure take the woman's protection away..

      Just FYI for ignorant people like Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock domestic violence most woman are either strangled or hit to death, so should we outlaw all objects that are blunt and may be used for strangulation?

      December 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Squid Burns

      Go back to Canada...

      December 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff miller

      It's OK Squid, I never left

      December 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bpj13

    Guns don't kill people. Thugs kill people. The NFL is full of them and they have loads of $ to help them live the life. The guy drove to the stadium in his Bentley. Must've been doing alright.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Johnny T

    The United States has a 89 % per capita gun ownership. Guns are NOT going away. I completely agree with people who have said that domestic violence and mental health are much more relevant issues to this sad case.
    As for the topic of guns, people should put the focus on enforcing the gun laws that are currently on the books. No one will debate that killing someone is a crime, whether you use a knife, gun, bomb or your bare hands, you took someone's life; that is the crime. What good would passing a law saying guns are illegal when the folks causing the problem already don't follow laws? An outright gun ban is asinine.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Jim

    We don't need gun control; we need "stop letting your kids grow up to be hoodlums" control.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Baby Doc

      Great comment!

      December 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lord Toronaga

    "If OJ Simpson did not have a handgun, Nicole and Ron would still be alive today." – Bob Costas
    If that isn't the stupidest thing ever said.... They died by by knife wounds. Typical NBC liberal.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kev

      *Sarcasm (not a real quote)

      December 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Spamb0t

      HEY MORON! It's called sarcasm. Yes they were stabbed. If the public didn't have free and unfettered access to knives, Nicole would still be alive today. Sounds as stupid to me as taking away guns.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andre

      It was meant as sarcasm. to make the point that this tragedy could have easily happened without a gun.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mar

      EXACTLY!! he was making a point about not needing guns to kill...hello!!

      December 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff miller

      I'd hate to visit this Toronaga place, because if you are their lord, they must be the dumbest civilization in the history of the planet.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • lee

      Without reading the entirety of Costas' comments, I'm fairly certain he didn't say anything about O.J. Simpson or his killings. It was a snarky comment made by someone on Twitter, the point being that people without guns can still kill people.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. BIll202

    If "he didn't have a gun both of them would be alive today." Because the only way to kill someone is with a gun. If he killed his wife with a knife then they should ban knives? So if someone drives a car through a market place and runs over 10 people they should ban cars? In a free country you cannot prevent bad things from happening all the time. The only way to prevent every crime is if we just lock up every person in the U.S. Then everyone would be safe and couldn't kill each other.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. glorydays

    I'm so sick of the a greedy NRA terrorizing politicians. How much profit is enough?

    December 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. The Man

    Outlawing drugs has done nothing to curtail drug use so what makes you think that outlawing guns will curtail murders and suicides? But alas, I want to talk football and how bad my raiders suck rather than gun control!

    December 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. kesava charugundla

    It is interesting to see that so many people have pro gun comments. I have a feeling that most of these people are members or supporters of NRA. How many industrialized countries have the type of lax gun control like the one we have here? Answer is 'None' besides us. It is such an antiquated argument that guns don't kill people, people do. These people have no common sense because guns can inflict fatal damage instantly. If you are in a rage, terribly angry at some one, you might hit the person with your hands, or worst you may stab the person with a knife and most of the time that will not result in death. How many people do you know that was killed by a knife or fork, or bare hands? Compare it to the number of people that are killed by guns. People in Europe or Asia just cannot believe that a government will permit its people to own the guns at will. It is simply ridiculous. All these gun advocates hide behind the second amendment which made sense in the days of the wild wild west, not any longer in a civilized society. But the NRA is so powerful and vocal. Even though their membership is less than 1% of the population, they control so many members in the congress by means of campaign contributions or plain intimidation. Shame on us that we cannot stand up to these bullies!!

    December 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Bob

    I did not see the half time show, but I have said this for long time if someone wants a gun they will find a way to get one and commit the crime they want to commit. Gun control do's nothing but take rights away from law abiding citizen's.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Kalvin

    Gun don't kill people, people kill people. There are more deaths in auto accidents than in murder/suicide. Will we outlaw cars???

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

      No, but guns make it easier to kill someone...how many people get intentionally run over by cars in the US versus those who intentionally get killed by a gun. No one is saying that people shouldnt have guns for hunting and for sport, but too many people who have guns end up using it to kill other people. That IS a problem!

      December 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • michaela

      @Kalvin: This is such a silly statement. The difference between cars and guns is that most deaths by cars are unintentional accidents. if you point a gun at another person and pull the trigger, you are intending to kill them. Whether it is done in the heat of passion or is premeditated, the act itself is intentional. There are plenty of arguments both for and against gun control, but this is not one of them. Please make a logical argument against gun control rather than simply saying "Well, people die a lot by other means, so let's do something about that, too." Your statement is why we cannot have a logical debate about real issues in this country!

      December 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
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