Bob Costas did a grave disservice to the world recently when he chose to redirect the discussion about Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide to a rant on lax gun laws. Jovan Belcher’s demons, whatever they were, were not influenced in any way by the 2nd Amendment. He chose to commit murder. Let me say that another way; Jovan Belcher killed the mother of his child. He’s no victim, he’s a murderer.
Kassandra Perkins was a victim, her three month old daughter Zoey is a victim, Cheryl Shepard, Belcher’s mother is a victim. The list goes on, but he has no place on that list. Jovan Belcher is a murderer.
By shifting the focus from murder to gun control, Costas sweeps the crime under the carpet as if what really happened was the fault of Belcher’s gun. What if Belcher had driven his car into a bridge abutment, would Costas talk about banning cars? The weapon is not the problem; he did not kill the mother of his child and then himself because he had a gun. He did it for some other reason that we may never understand. But we should be talking about that and not about guns. Domestic violence is not an issue that is caused by weapons, it’s caused by a lack of respect, or mental illness, or any of a host of other causes. Again with the list, but there are no weapons on the list of causes of domestic violence.
We should explore the cause of this murder, not in terms of weapons, but in terms of addressing the notion that it’s OK to hurt someone because you’re angry. It’s not OK, it’s never going to be OK. And yet Bob Costas wants to talk about the gun. Taking away the guns, if it were even possible, does nothing to prevent the behavior that cost Kassandra Perkins her life. Let’s talk about why this young woman died, not how.
Too often in the sports community, we teach young athletes their behavior doesn’t matter. Do the drugs you want to do, we’ll smooth it over when you get busted. If you have to beat up or murder your wives and girlfriends, we’ll handle it. Many athletes never learn personal responsibility; they don’t need to because the team has a whole staff of people standing at the ready to offer protection whenever a line is crossed.
Gun control changes are fair game for discussion, but gun control did not lead Jovan Belcher to commit murder. At its most extreme, gun control changes in this country will go after assault rifles and other military grade weapons. Let’s stop kidding ourselves about how to fix this problem. Guns are not inherently dangerous, people are the dangerous ones.
Our attention should be directed to concussive head injuries in sports; and to mental health issues of course, but more importantly, we should do a better job of teaching our children that it’s not alright to beat someone up because you don’t like them, or because they have something you want to have. We have to teach our kids respect. If Jovan Belcher had respected Kassandra Perkins he would never have killed her.