Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
After former NFL and Super Bowl quarterback Steve McNair was found shot dead yesterday, the police said he was a victim of murder, but one well-known sports writer claims the athlete was a victim, instead, of the “American gun culture.”
Mike Lupica is the author of more than two dozen sports-related books and novels, an ESPN TV personality, a regular writer for the New York Daily News and, apparently, no friend to gun-rights advocates.
In response to the discovery of McNair’s body and that of his alleged mistress, both shot presumably by the semiautomatic pistol found at the crime scene, Lupica penned an article titled, “Steve McNair’s famous face becomes just another victim of American gun culture.”
Lupica’s article takes a couple of soft shots at the presence of firearms in America, commenting, “Where did the gun come from? Where it always comes from: Somewhere,” and, “This weekend [McNair] was famous again, this time as a crime statistic, homicide victim, dead by gun,” before concluding with a far more pointed comment:
“[McNair] is the 36th homicide victim in Nashville this year. That is down from 41 at the same time last year,” Lupica writes. “Only in a country of gun lovers is that considered progress.”
Second Amendment gun rights advocates, however, have criticized Lupica’s comments as insulting and “ignorant” of the facts.
“Blaming the ‘gun culture’ for a criminal act is a calculated insult to the tens of millions of peaceable American gun owners who own firearms and do not engage in violence,” responded David Codrea, Gun Rights Examiner for Examiner.com. “The fact is, guns in private hands are overwhelmingly used to save lives, most of the time without firing a shot.”
According to the Associated Press, McNair, 36, was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds along with Sahel Kazemi, a 20-year-old woman he was reportedly dating, at a Nashville condominium he rented with a friend. McNair, who was married with four sons, had a permit to carry a handgun in Tennessee, though police have not yet determined who owned the gun found beneath Kazemi’s body.
Codrea told WND that especially given the circumstances – including the fact that police are not currently seeking suspects, which some are speculating indicates a likely murder-suicide scenario – blaming the deaths on “guns” constitutes a cop out.
“All indications are McNair was a man of power and influence who was using a girl almost half his age, a former waitress with no money, no power, but physical attractiveness,” Codrea said “[While] the ‘adultery culture’ no doubt provided the setting for a tragic ending, we do no one any good by refusing to focus on personal responsibility and choices. And Lupica does actual harm by exploiting sad circumstances to disparage the right of good people to protect themselves.”
Erich Pratt, director of communications for Gun Owners of America, told WND that Lupica has apparently fallen victim himself, not to “America’s gun culture,” but to the myths and misunderstandings of those that seek to control or eliminate firearms.
“Lupica’s slam against ‘gun lovers’ is ignorant and over the top,” Pratt told WND.
Quoting Lupica’s assertion that McNair had become “a statistic,” a victim of the “gun culture,” Pratt then rattled off statistics of his own:
“The places which have the greatest access to guns are the safest places to live,” Pratt asserted. “While Vermont allows people to carry concealed firearms without a permit, it is frequently listed as being the safest state in the union. Washington, D.C., however, had imposed a near complete gun ban for years, even during a time that it was the nation’s murder capital.”
“According to the Clinton Justice Department in 1997, guns are used 50 times more often to save life than to take life,” Pratt continued. “That means for every tragic Steve McNair story, there were another 50 people who used guns to protect themselves.”
“Twice as many children are killed playing football in school than are murdered by guns,” Pratt concluded. “Despite what media coverage might seem to indicate, there are more deaths related to high school football than guns. Hmm, does that mean we have a dangerous ‘football culture’?”
McNair, selected four times to the National Football League’s Pro Bowl, played most of his career for the Tennessee Titans, whom he led to the Super Bowl at the end of the 1999 season. He announced his retirement last year, after injuries forced the quarterback known as “Air McNair” to conclude his career. Besides his wife, he is survived by his sons Junior, Steven, Tyler and Trenton.