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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. Doug K

    Until authorities are willing to go after the illegal guns in possession of gangbangers and criminals don't even think about going after law abiding citizens. But no, we can't do that because it would violate their civil rights, right to free speech and and every other PC excuse you can think of to leave them alone.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  2. KMVB

    Bob Costas and everyone else carrying on about this Sunday missed the mark. The issue isn't gun control. It's domestic violence. He would've killed his girlfriend whether he had a gun handy or not. I would have applauded Bob for mentioning domestic violence and that abuse hotlines light up like Xmas trees during football games, as well. I hate that this issue is overshadowed by method in which she was murdered.

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

    Best line I've heard so far, "Costas didn't go on a rant about gun control, his microphone did."

    December 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • smitty

      now that's funny.

      December 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian

      Funny analogy because without his microphone he wouldn't have been able to say it. Which side of this are you on?

      December 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mike

    So if he would have run her over, would Costas be advocating car control laws? Obviously that accessibility to a motor vehicle was the root of the problem.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jonathan Coswell

    Costas is on the wrong side of this issue.

    As citizens we have a constitutional responsibility to protect our rights: we must rally against this fringe minority intent on subverting our Second Amendment (and other) rights.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Really!

    Obviously Costas knows more about sports that pain, suffering and the human condition. Just another empty talking head.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. The_Mick

    Did anyone consider the possibility that by mentioning gun control, the NFL and NBC knew that it would create a stir and misdirect everyone away from the fact a linebacker had committed murder, that it was HIS mind that killed, and that it included the fifth suicide by a player or ex-player in the last few years.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. shawn L

    As a democrat, I can say that this is a stupid argument for gun control. He could just as easily used a knife, a baseball bat, or his bare hands.

    The real crime is the terrible lack of mental health to people who can't afford it in this country.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Faye

    Wow, so many people are upset that he is speaking out on a tragedy and having a thoughtful and necessary conversation about something that is a problem in this country. You may not agree with him, but its his right to say so. Goodness, we had to listen to alot of crap over the airwaves when the Bush administration was in power. Not that I am calling him a branch of the Democratic party, but agree with him or not, he does not forfeit his right to an opinion just because of his job.
    This was an awful tragedy, that affected the NFL, and to ignore it is a disservice to the victim and their families.
    For those who are against this, when is the right time to talk about gun control? When is the right time to have this type of discussion? Ever?....I would think most of you would think never. Because, even after the Trayvon Martin shooting, the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, the Aurora Colorado shooting and I could go on and on and on, you are the same people that refuse to talk about gun control. When is the right time?

    December 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Imsaying

    What about those who shoot up movie theaters, and go to colleges and open fire?

    December 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Baby Doc

      You cannot legislate to account for every possibility an insane person might use to attack people. Living is risky. We've been endowed with constitutional freedoms that come with risks. You don't take those freedoms away because some folks abuse them. I believe the main stream media constantly abuses freedom of speech and ruin peoples lives, but I don't think that it should be regulated.
      I think considering the sheer number of guns in society today along with other social and economic issues that the gun murder rate is actually quite low. The vast majority of gun crimes are committed in 3 major metropolitan areas (LA, Chicago, NYC) and within those cities you can narrow it even down even further. These 3 cities have some of the strictest gun laws in the country.

      December 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. newtonfig

    What I dont get is that solid statistics show that areas of poverty, low college education and blue collar have the most gun violence. Race and immigration doesnt statistically factor in, nor does location in the country or world. e.g. Vermont has very liberal gun laws, but the lowest gun violence in the countries. Arizona has the same amount of liberal gun laws, with some of the highest gun violence in the country. Vermont is highly white and educated, Arizona is highly mixed and blue collar with much more poverty. Much of civilized Europe has tight gun laws, but gun violence still isnt uncommon according to a well known Harvard study.

    So here is a successful wealthy athlete with a college education. Why does he have a gun?

    I think the bigger problem to look at is our inability to maturely manage our anger. Every direction of western society foments rash behavior – video games, movies, music etc – and we're a far less mature society than in past generations. We arent capable of separating the fun of popcorn movie shootemups from how to deal with each other in real life. Add drug addiction, performance enhancement addiction and stress, and what you get is your neighbor next door being a tinderbox of crazy.

    The problem with the NRA and gunowners is they dont explain their case very well. Gun-owning and violence dont correlate statistically, but when you add them to those other statistical areas, then they do. Of course, we all focus on the Auroras as a case study of exceptions, but Europe has more mass gun murders than we do, and we should be focused on the real problem which is why a guy like this can't manage his emotions or meds to prevent him from killing someone

    December 3, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Alicia

    Costa is another stupid globalist jerk. Good luck at retrieving 150 million registered weapons on top of probably 10-30 million more unregistered weapons.

    The govt isn't going to find people stupid enough to get deputized to go out & collect guns!. That would become a death wish.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian

      and yet people are stupid enough to think that is REALLY going to happen and they continue to vote as if it ever in a thousand years WOULD happen. The only right these people care to defend is their own selfish right to feel safe from their own paranoid "red dawn" / "george orwell" fantasies at the cost of thousands of innocent lives every year. Meanwhile our gov't reads our email, listens to our phone calls, indefinite detintion in overseas prisons, corporations are people with unlimited free speech in our electoral process, healthcare is unaffordable, etc, etc.

      December 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Paul

    To think the absence of a gun could prevent the death of a murder victim is just asinine. If a killer wants to kill he or she would just find another means to their ends. If guns were never invented those who are pro gun control would be pro knife control. You cannot regulate actions especially tnose who are mentally unstable.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JonathanL

    It should be illegal to own an unregistered and unlicensed gun, and you should have to own liability insurance in order to carry one in public. You would need a very special license to own any kind of automatic. You should need to pass a test on how to store the gun, how to use it. Rules should not be much different than for a car. A car can be a very useful thing to own. However a car can be and occasionally is used as a deadly weapon, for example by drunk drivers who terrorize innocent people by risking others' lives in order to drive around while being drunk, or thugs who drive them into store fronts to commit a robbery. That is similar to those who use guns without knowing and abiding by the basic rules, the first of which is never point one at a person. Would you want unlicensed uninsured car drivers driving around your neighborhood? Gun slingers? When the temperature rises above 90 degrees, domestic violence rises by 10 to 15%. It is a well known statistic that guns that were bought for protection, are much more likely to be used to shoot a relative or friend, than a burgler. One of my cousins had a 22 and accidently killed one of his friends while in the woods. Get training first, learn about the dangers. Learn how to use it. Not for every trigger happy 10 year old minded thug or revolutionary wannabe.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Joey

    Really Frank! We should not be able to own a car? Susan Smith killed her kids by rolling the car into a lake with them strapped inside! Don't guess we should be allowed to burn wood for heat either since an axe comes in handy for chopping wood. No salt on our food...rememeber the mother some 25 years or so ago that made her son eat salt when she caught him eating sugar.....the boy went into cardiac arrest and died. Don't think we should be allowed to stay clean either since the mother drown her kids in the tub it should be illegal to own one! We need to wake up as a country and realize that bad things have, do, and will happen. People need to be held responsible for what they do sure enough but some people are mentally ill or just plain crazy! If someone is going to kill me, please shoot me; I would rather go that way than having my heart dug out with a spoon!

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