Whitlock, Costas Bravely Point to Role of Guns in Perkins, Belcher Tragedy


In a disgusting demonstration that for the NFL, money dictates that “The Show Must Go On”, the NFL never considered those who, like Dave Zirin, found it astounding that the NFL would encourage the Kansas City Chiefs to go ahead with their game barely 24 hours after Chiefs Coach Romeo Crennel and other Chiefs personnel witnessed Jovan Belcher kill himself with a handgun shortly after he had murdered his girlfriend, the mother of their three month old son daughter. Zirin tweeted throughout the day on the coverage provided by the various networks as they continued broadcasting games, mostly as if the event had never happened.

But then, just at the close of halftime in the nationally televised Sunday night game on NBC, Bob Costas took the microphone for the minute and a half you see in the YouTube above. Costas started by slamming the cliche that the playing of the game somehow began the “healing” process for those affected by the tragedy, giving voice to the sentiment Zirin had stated earlier. But then Costas moved on to confront an even bigger taboo in the national debate, as he quoted this powerful column by Jason Whitlock, who dared to point out the way that our national sickness relating to guns contributed to this tragedy. From Whitlock:

I would argue that your rationalizations speak to how numb we are in this society to gun violence and murder. We’ve come to accept our insanity. We’d prefer to avoid seriously reflecting upon the absurdity of the prevailing notion that the second amendment somehow enhances our liberty rather than threatens it.

How many young people have to die senselessly? How many lives have to be ruined before we realize the right to bear arms doesn’t protect us from a government equipped with stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons?

Our current gun culture simply 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 teenage boys bloodied and dead.

In the coming days, Belcher’s actions will be analyzed through the lens of concussions and head injuries. Who knows? Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend. What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.

Whitlock deftly destroys so many of the false narratives that our society has forced upon it regarding guns. As he states, this tragedy demonstrates that the second amendment actually threatens our liberty rather than protecting it. He goes on to state that although the second amendment is regarded by many as the last refuge by citizens against a government turned tyrannical, mere guns won’t protect against a determined government armed with “stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons”. Whitlock cleanly demonstrates that the pervasive nature of guns in our sickened society is what enables so many senseless deaths, pointing out that both Perkins and Belcher likely would still be alive if a gun had not been available during Belcher’s moment of extreme rage. Whitlock also alluded to the tragic murder of Jordan Davis in Jacksonville, Florida recently in a case that appears to possibly be headed once again into an inovcation of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law that many see as a license for murder.

Whitlock went directly in the face of the cliche, often pointed out by David Waldman on Twitter, that the immediate aftermath of a tragedy of this magnitude is “too soon” to enter into a discussion on the perils of society’s glorification of guns. Others would say that public discussion of guns on a rational basis is no longer possible because of the overwhelming power of the NRA.

The fact is, it is never “too soon” to discuss the role of guns in tragedies because the tragedies come at us so quickly that we would otherwise always be in the quiet period after one gun tragedy or another. But even more importantly, the myth of the power of the NRA has been completely destroyed. In the 2012 elections, Media Matters informs us that the NRA spent just under $12 million but only 0.42 percent of those funds supported winning candidates and only 0.39 percent opposed losing candidates.

Just as the latest round of elections and the current Kabuki over the “fiscal cliff” is poking a hole in Grover Norquist’s power over preventing tax increases, our society may actually be moving toward a more rational discussion on the sickness inherent in our gun culture. I don’t harbor any illusions that progress will be fast or that substantive improvements are even still possible, but if changes do finally take place, we may be able to point to the courage shown by Bob Costas last night as the turning point when we finally started a long overdue discussion.

42 replies
  1. MLynch says:

    So you are up in arms over the government violating the civil rights you like (when it comes to FISA, Awlaki assassination etc) but when it comes to a basic human right you dislike, hey, lets violate it. The second amendment is as important as any other part of the bill of rights. You dont have to own a gun, but please posting such hypocritical stuff railing against the bill of rights while complaining about government violations in other posts.

  2. emptywheel says:

    @MLynch: Where does this post advocate eliminating the 2nd Amendment?

    One can work against hateful speech while at the same time defending the legality of it. Just as one can work against the glorification of guns (which is what this post discusses) without questioning the legality of gun ownership.

  3. Jim White says:

    @MLynch: @emptywheel: To add to what Marcy said, I would point out that I first became involved in internet activism over the issue of illegal government surveillance. That is definitely a Bill of Rights issue, but from the start my position has been that it is only illegal government surveillance that I am against. There are times when government surveillance is both necessary and proper. But those times come with demonstration of probable cause, a warrant and proper judicial oversight. Our country has gotten away from those needed restraints and now routinely infringes on our right to privacy.

    So while the right to own a gun is enshrined, society’s sick worship of the gun culture makes it all too easy to grab a gun a fit of rage. We all readily accept that in order to exercise our right to drive a car we will obtain a proper license, maintain adequate insurance and pay the appropriate taxes that are needed to maintain and police our roadways. And yet, criminals and unstable people can stroll into gun shows and buy weapons on the spot with no questions asked. Why is it easier to buy a gun than it is to get a building permit to renovate the garage where you park your car?

  4. MLynch says:

    I would agree there is a proper and definitely necessary role for government surveillance and understand you are against illegal surveillance. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.

    Jim: First, there is no RIGHT to drive a car. YOu do have a right according to the constitution to travle freely, but the mode of transportation can be reguled, i.e. driver’s license. Driving a car is a privelidge.

    Also, according to current federal laws, criminals and those adjudicated metally defective CANNOT purchase or own firearms. The execution of the law may be flawed, but the law exists. Also, there will always unfortunately be mistakes that allow it. Moreover, by their nature, criminals will not follow the law.

    Also, please do some basic research into firearms law. You cannot stroll into a gun show and buy a weapon with no questions asked. That is simply untrue. TO purchase from a federally licensed dealer you must go through an FBI background check .The location of the purchase does not matter (in a shop, gun show, etc).

    The ONLY way you can purchase without that is a person to person sale, i..e. from someone who is not a commercial dealer, i.e. someone who occasionally buys and sells. So if I want to sell a rifle I’ve had and decide I no longer need, I can sell it to someone directly without going through a dealer. It could be at my home, at their home, a parkign lot, wherever. Location is irrelevant. Also, person to person sales are LEGAL. It is specifically written that way into the law, it is not a loophole. Again, you need to research the law.

    Federal law applies to all persons in all places in the US. Whether you are at a gun show or not does NOT change federal law.

    Also, a building permit is not a civil right, so that’s a silly comparison.

  5. Jim White says:


    Unfortunately, current federal law requires criminal background checks only for guns sold through licensed firearm dealers, which account for just 60% of all gun sales in the United States. A loophole in the law allows individuals not “engaged in the business” of selling firearms to sell guns without a license—and without processing any paperwork. That means that two out of every five guns sold in the United States change hands without a background check.

    Though commonly referred to as the “Gun Show Loophole,” the “private sales” described above include guns sold at gun shows, through classified newspaper ads, the Internet, and between individuals virtually anywhere.

    Unfortunately, only six states (CA, CO, IL, NY, OR, RI) require universal background checks on all firearm sales at gun shows. Three more states (CT, MD, PA) require background checks on all handgun sales made at gun shows. Seven other states (HI, IA, MA, MI, NJ, NC, NE) require purchasers to obtain a permit and undergo a background check before buying a handgun. Florida allows its counties to regulate gun shows by requiring background checks on all firearms purchases at these events. 33 states have taken no action whatsoever to close the Gun Show Loophole.


  6. orionATL says:


    “…a basic human right you dislike…”.

    what nra drivel you parrot.

    if i had to guess, i’d say you are one of the nra gang assigned to monitor and subvert any protest about guns arising out of this tragedy. i’d bet there will be dozens of similar responses in the media orchestrated by the nra and featuring intellectual robots like yourself.

    i’ll also say that the second amendment was illegitimately and illogically extended to individual gun ownership by the notorious right-wing political operative antonin scalia. that decision will be overturned as soon as scalia and another crackpot like thomas are replaced.

  7. MLynch says:

    There is no gun show loophole, that is the law the way it was both written and intended.

    I don’t see any problem or counteragument within what you’ve written.

  8. bmaz says:

    @MLynch: What a load of disingenuous semantics. “Loopholes” are indeed gaps in laws, whether specifically intended or not. Your braying at any reasonable discussion of gun regulation is ridiculous. And, if you think that there can be no regulation of firearms in the US, you are sadly mistaken and have no understanding whatsoever of the Heller decision.

    Secondly, it is sickening watching so called Second Amendment adherents whine like babies just because someone wants to reasonably discuss the issues of pervasive guns in American society. Maybe you ought to learn the value of the First Amendment as well.

  9. orionATL says:


    “look there, i see a gunshow loophole.”

    ” that is a figment of your imaginationt; there is no such thing as a gunshow loophole”

    “but i can see that there is.”

    “who do you trust, me or your lying eyes?”

  10. lorac says:

    this post brought back disturbing memories of a murder in front of my house. 2 young men with an earlier disagreement over a woman who was a girlfriend of a friend of theirs. one of these men was leaving the neighborhood after waiting for the other to come home. as he was driving away the other came home, got a semi-automatic rifle from his house and shot him. without a gun, i believe that the young man would be alive. not only was a life taken away needlessly, but there are so many other victims – the dead man’s family, his girlfriend and other friend who were with him in the car, the family of the shooter, the neighbors who witnessed it and came out of their houses to help the dying young man. the shooter is now in prison with a 20 year sentence. none of this should have happened.

  11. bsbafflesbrains says:

    @lorac: And we lost two people for our well regulated militia…”A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

  12. MLynch says:

    The problem is that the ‘reasonable covnersation’ is actually clever semantics for further restricting the rights of millions of Americans.

    Gun violence is an unfortunate fact that both gun owners and non gun owners abhor. However, people who committ these acts are already not following the law. Making more laws and further restricting the rights of those who are following the law wil make no difference to criminals.

    A perfect example is Virginia Tech. People screamed we need more laws. However, the individual carried the gun concealed without a permit (illegal in VA), pointed it at others (illegal brandishing), fired at people (attempted murder, discharge of firearms in public both illegal), brought it on school property (illegal), shot several people (illegal) and more. So making it ‘illegaler’ is going to deter these sick individuals how?

    It’s also rather petty to dismiss someone as an NRA parrot (I acutally dislike the NRA, as they are fatcat lobbyists who do very little and use silly propaganda to rile people up) instead of look at my point.

    There is no single cause for gun violence. Some cultures are more prone to it, some socio-economic groups are and sometimes bad things just happen. It’s an unfortunate side effect of the freedoms we have.

    But collective punishment of law abiding citizens for the actions of criminals and the erosion of the bill of rights is not the answer. In fact, you’d actually find that most of the gun violence we all are against is a result of drug prohibition. (see rise in violence in the 1920s). Eliminate the war on drugs and you lose A LOT of American violence.

  13. bmaz says:

    @MLynch: That is your book. My book says you are spewing every bit of contrived trash put out by the gun obsessed NRA set that leave this country awash in a sea of relentlessly smoking lead. You are darn right, I would like to restrict this insanity.

  14. jerryy says:

    @MLynch: “There is no single cause for gun violence. Some cultures are more prone to it, some socio-economic groups are and sometimes bad things just happen. It’s an unfortunate side effect of the freedoms we have.”

    Quit that. Quit pretending the causes are so intricate for human minds to comphrehend that they should just be wished away via finger pointing at at large masses and claiming they are too large to understand.

    It is difficult to get to ‘gun violence’ without guns. Guns are the the single biggest cause of gun violence just as atomic bombs are the single biggest cause of atomic bomb explosions.

    You started to raise some good points about how the war-on-drugs has caused a run-away arms race in our various subcultures (gangs vs law enforcement vs etc.), but bailed on it back into comfort jargon. Australia stands witness against your argument of the comfort jargon.

    If you wish to call something a ‘freedom’, that is fine, but remember the same crew also first gave us the notion of ‘inalienable right’ versus ‘right’. ‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ caused our revolution against tryanny. It was not the ‘right’ to bear arms. Life is inalienable, not the means to take it.

  15. orionATL says:




    and there is more to this fast-buck angle – foreign gun manufacturers who prop up the nra and provide it funding.

    there was a reason why nancy pelosi was forced into a “carve-our” for the nra when she tried to get legislation requiring disclosure of funding for lobbying groups.

    the nra wants to hide, needs to hide, the fact that it is essentially a foreign lobbying organization working to influence american legislation.

  16. John Casper says:


    Here’s the Second Amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Folks like you do a lot of damage to it. You need to focus more on responsibilities, less on rights.

  17. MLynch says:

    Whether you like it or not, guns do not cause gun violence. I’ll refer you to the global small arms survey which looks at the countries with the most civilian owned firearms per capita in the world? Of course the US is number one, then Yemen and Iraq. But guess who’s next? Switzerland and Finland! They do not have anywhere near the amount of gun violence we have. Also look at Canada, which has a huge amount of firearms per capita and in a very small country of 30 million.

    A major component of gun violence in America is American culture and I would argue the drug war. What makes our country different that more people resort to violence in general?

    Also, if you look at the UK, even since they’ve banned handguns and nearly banned all guns, they still have a soaring rate of….gun violence as well as assault with knives and general violence. Again, probably cultural and socioeconomic issues at play too.

    The answer is not taking away people’s rights. I’d say let’s end the drug war first, legalize possession of all drugs (a la Portugal in 2001) and then talk.

  18. Jim White says:

    @MLynch: Did you actually read Whitlock’s column?

    Whether you like it or not, guns do not cause gun violence.

    The point is not that guns cause violence. It is that guns make violence much more deadly when they are so readlily available and so revered by our culture.

    And with that I’m done with you and your willful blindness to the carnage you so eagerly enable by hiding behind “rights”.

  19. orionATL says:

    “…Whether you like it or not, guns do not cause gun violence…”

    sophistry, pure sophistry on your part – in defense of the source of a serious public health disaster – guns.

    it is not a question of “like or dislike”. it is a question of cause and effect. guns, pistols-in-hand in particular, injure and kill people to the number of 25-30,000 american citizens per year. that’s at least 2000 a month, 500 a week, 70 each day.

    or if you prefer, lynch, think of it as one-quarter of a million american citizens every decade. how does that grab you, lynch. and if each of these has three loved ones, then 1 million americans would have been affected by gun violence eaach decade.

    when pistols become regulated and their numbers greatly reduced to those few who genuinely need them for protection, then gun violence will decline markedly.

    it’s simple, lynch. it’s obvious, lynch. no gun in hand, no opportunity to point and shoot at oneself or another (and no opportunity to regret having done so for the rest of your life).

  20. bmaz says:

    @MLynch: Nonsense. You cannot have “gun violence” without “guns”. Nice blather though.

    I also note you failed to respond to my completely correct statement that you do not seem to understand that the Supreme Court, via the Heller decision, did NOT preclude reasonable gun regulation and restriction.

  21. MLynch says:

    bmaz: I realize Heller allowed reasonable gun regulation, which is what we already have in place for the most part, some I’d argue are unreasonable such as the NFA from 1934. But I think we are clear that we disagree strongly on how much regulation should be required.

    OrionATL: None of your stats move me for the simple reason that no number will persuade me to give up my inalienable civil rights. Pistols are already regulated, see FBI’s NICS system and the myriad of laws law abiding citizens like me have to deal with just to exercise a basic right.

    All of your arguments are about people who break the law. And people who are already willing to break the law are going to do so regardless of whether you pass new ‘reasonable’ restrictions. See the UK for the example of what happens when you ban handguns (in 1999), violence continues to go up including gun violence.

    The problem is that many people here simply will not accept a civil right they do not like. If I got on here and argued that we needed to restrict certain religious because of the harm they cause or restrict newspapers or other media, perhaphs further erode our privacy rights so the NSA or FBI can just snoop on everything, you’d be up in arms (parden the pun). The fact is your mind is made up and you want to pick and choose the civil rights you like. It’s the same as the FOX news people who love their guns but happily let the government violate the 4th amendment for example.

  22. Peterr says:

    I’m all for slapping down the quick fix “let’s play to start the healing process” pseudo-psychology crap. But the logic expressed by the Chiefs players themselves in this morning’s KC Start is filled with sober reflection, and suggests that the decision was not driven by money — at least in so far as they had input into the decision:

    For some [players], the decision seemed obvious.

    “I definitely agree with the decision to play today,” wide receiver Dexter McCluster said. “This is the game we love. This is the game Jovan loved. This is the game fans love, so why not go out here and do something that we love to do?”

    For others, the alternative was worse.

    “The least-worst option was to play the game,” center Ryan Lilja said. “Suffering a tragedy like that, maybe the best thing was to be together and do what we do — and that’s what we do, we play football.” . . .

    “I definitely didn’t want it postponed,” tackle Eric Winston said. “What are you going to do, move it to Monday and kind of keep the agony going? Every week, at the end of the game, I always feel like you turn to a new chapter. … Hopefully, playing the game and getting it behind us will help us, but I’ve got a feeling there will be a cloud over us the rest of the season moving forward.”

    Sooner or later, the coaches and players were going to have to return to Arrowhead stadium where the suicide took place. Sooner or later, they were going to have to look at Belcher’s empty locker stall for the first time. Sooner or later, they’d have to go back on the field without him.

    And what is gained by “later” rather than “sooner”? In this case, not much that I can see.

    In another piece in the Star, Sam Mellinger captured Romeo Crennel’s thinking on this:

    That image [of Belcher pulling the trigger just a few feet in front of him] won’t leave Romeo’s memory soon, maybe never, and there are many who wondered if this game should even have been played. Many wondered how the game could even be played. But Romeo saw football as therapy, teammates as brothers who needed each other now more than ever. That even spirit never defined him so completely.

    His focus on his players as men never served him so well.

    “We need to work our way through the tragedy,” he says. “We know it’s not over and it will still go on tomorrow. And the next day, and the next day. But life is going to go on as well, and we have to get through it. So that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

    Oh, and one more thing.

    Freedom from slavery is a human right.
    Freedom from torture is a human right.
    Freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention is a human right.
    Having equal access to the due process of law is a human right.
    Freedom of religion is a human right.

    Unrestricted ownership of a gun is NOT a human right.

  23. emptywheel says:

    @MLynch: Again, you are the ONLY person here mentioning the 2nd Amendment. You are also STILL ignoring the references to CULTURE.

    If you want to attack people who are attacking the 2nd Amendment, please find some people who are doing that.

  24. MLynch says:

    “Whitlock deftly destroys so many of the false narratives that our society has forced upon it regarding guns. As he states, this tragedy demonstrates that the second amendment actually threatens our liberty rather than protecting it. He goes on to state that although the second amendment is regarded by many as the last refuge by citizens against a government turned tyrannical, mere guns won’t protect against a determined government armed with “stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons”.”

    Pretty sure that’s talking about the 2nd Amendment, of course you dont use that exact phrase, but what else are we talking about? If we aren’t talking about passing more laws, then maybe I just overreacted and missed your point? I don’t deny thats possible as I’m obviousyl passionate about this topic.

    So what part of culture is to blame exactly? This nation has been discussing firearms and ownership for decades and the only thing that has happened is that firearm ownership is increasing and regulations are decreasing.

  25. orionATL says:

    “…OrionATL: None of your stats move me for the simple reason that no number will persuade me to give up my inalienable civil rights…”

    this says it all about your you and your arguments.

    it is spoken like the passion-blinded true believer you are with a well-armored mind impervious to inconvenient fact.

    incidentally, those stats were not designed to move a man of such deep principle as yourself. they were designed to demonstrate just how monumentally uncaring a true believer can be and how damaging a corporate-funded organization like the nra can be to our society.

    incidentally, the right to gun ownership is the key strawman that the nra has been using for decades.

    the truth is, american society has a penchant for letting individual citizens decide for themselves what risks they will take.

    we have cigarettes.

    we have alcohol.

    we have (currently illicit) other drugs.

    we have cars, motorcycles, atvs and ultra-lights.

    and we have guns.

    i doubt we will ever be without any of them.

    banning is not the issue; effective regulation for public well-being is.

    it is not your civil rights that are threatened. it is the right of pistol building corporations to flood the u.s. with their wares, regardless of need or danger to our society.

  26. MLynch says:

    ok, so what is your solution? What laws would you change and how? And how specifically would your proposal alleviate current gun violence? Because the problem is gun violence right? Violence in general you aren’t going to change, perhaps just tools used. I mean, America cant even keep drugs and weapons out of US prisons, so I don’t see how more regulation is going to keep people from comitting crimes.

  27. orionATL says:


    what you’re discussing is the nra’s “nothing can be done” bag of arguments relative to gun injury and death in the u.s.:

    – we’ve got a lot of laws already and look what’s happening

    – no law would change anything because …

    – we just need existing laws to be better enforced

    – violence is endemic in american society so nothing can be done about gun violence (say what?)

    if we got rid of guns, that violence would just be replaced by rock violence, or stick violence, or knife violence, or …

  28. angry bitter drunk says:

    Don’t really want to defend the NFL, because I do believe that game shouldn’t have been played yesterday. But what was the alternative? If they reschedule on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, does it really make anything less horrible? The Chiefs were going to have to go back to work sometime, and it was always going to be excruciating.

    I think about the only thing they could have done is cancel the game outright (more easily done since neither team is a playoff factor; call it a draw for the standings/draft pick slotting for 2013).

    As for what Costas and Whitlock said, let’s face it: Even if we had sane gun control laws, with waiting periods and any sort of regulation of gun shows, at this point there are so many lethal weapons in circulation, I think an underground black market would flourish pretty much unabated. We long ago crossed the Rubicon on this one.

  29. Bill Michtom says:

    what you neglected throughout your rant is this: “the right to bear arms doesn’t protect us from a government equipped with stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons.” You also never dealt with the controlling clause of the 2nd Amendment about a “well-regulated militia.”

    And, as others pointed out, your grasping at your “inalienable civil rights” is sophistry. Free speech, a free press and guns? Give it up. You sound like a fool.

    Then there is this incomplete argument (because completing it will demonstrate what BS it is): “All of your arguments are about people who break the law.” They may have been completely law-abiding until they went ballistic, as in this case. Without the gun, the breakdown would likely, at worst, have ended with some bruises.

    You are just what others have called you, a shill for gun companies. Perhaps a blind shill, but a shill just the same.

  30. orionATL says:

    @Bill Michtom:

    “…what you neglected throughout your rant is this: “the right to bear arms doesn’t protect us from a government equipped with stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons.”

    may i add:

    – electronically spying on our e-mails and phone conversations.

    – tracking our movements thru close space with co-ordinated cellphone and drone spying

    – stealing the hard drives from our computers on pretext of illegal action

    – searching thru vast data files for prior legal infractions of any sort in order to extort compliance

  31. gallowaytrail says:


    “Making more laws and further restricting the rights of those who are following the law wil make no difference to criminals”

    From what I read the Chiefs player wasn’t a criminal before he shot his girlfriend. What keeps me awake at night is how we slaughter each other in the safety of our own homes; our castle, because the handgun is there. “Difference”? Maybe absent a gun.

    And before you respond with the canard that a person intent on doing harm will find another weapon–It’s like the Virginia Tech student who was shot twice by the killer said–if he had the choice, he would have taken his chances on a knife, thank you.

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