NBC sportscaster Bob Costas is trying to clarify comments he made during Sunday night's broadcast that America's gun culture is partly to blame for the murder-suicide perpetrated Saturday morning by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher.
Costas now says he's not in favor of repealing the Second Amendment or denying people the right to own firearms for the purpose of protection or hunting. However, he claims there's no need for anyone to have a virtual arsenal of weapons or to have any automatic or semi-automatic guns.
Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt said Costas was wrong in his premise on Sunday night and is just as wrong in his attempts to clarify his position. He's especially dubious of Costas' allegation that guns escalate volatile situations into deadly ones.
"I appreciate his pointing out the problem of guns escalating situations, because I'm frequently having to rebuke my own guns and tell them to just chill out and stay in the holster," mused Pratt. "That's really silly to impute some kind of ability like that to a firearm. What he's hoping to do is blame anything or anybody but the criminal who made the decision to be a criminal."
Pratt noted the extensive history of Belcher engaging in domestic violence and contends that a man of Belcher's size and strength could have easily killed Kasandra Perkins with a kitchen knife or a baseball bat once he became determined to kill her. Pratt said the problem wasn't that Belcher owned a gun. It's that Perkins didn't.
"The fact that (Belcher) might have had more than one gun, that other people have more than one gun, that's really not the point," said Pratt. "The point is, she didn't have a gun. There weren't enough guns present. That's something that the anti-self-defense crowd never wants to engage – that a lot of these crimes don't happen when the criminal mind realizes that the one thing that causes them pause might occur. Namely, 'I might get hurt or killed if I commit this crime.'"
Pratt said that immediate deterrent is vital because someone ready to kill isn't really concerned about a looming prison sentence.
"They don't care about jail later on. They're mad right now, and they want to kill right now. They're not thinking about the future. These are not future-oriented people," said Pratt, mentioning that people affected by drugs or alcohol may not listen to reason.
"In the areas of our country where the laws make it easiest for people to go about in public carrying concealed firearms – or openly for that matter – those are the areas where the violent crime rates are the lowest. (Costas) has it completely wrong. He doesn't know what he's talking about. Both in the particular case where this woman might be alive today had she had a gun, and the general proposition that more guns mean less crime is a statistically researched fact."
And Pratt said the reverse is proven true, as locations with the strictest gun-control laws often see the highest murder and crime rates. He said these laws simply encourage criminals.
"You're telling them their victims are not likely to be able to respond effectively," Pratt said. "So that's been the experience of these anti-gun cities."
Pratt cited Washington, D.C., as a prime example of his argument. He said when the nation's capital had a complete gun ban in place, the murder rate was 25 for every 100,000 residents. In just the few years since the Supreme Court struck down the ban as unconstitutional, that rate has dropped to nine murders for every 100,000 residents.
"That only lets people in the District of Columbia have guns in their homes, so home invasions clearly have plummeted," he said.
Pratt contends that if the Court had allowed conceal-and-carry in the district, the murder rate would decrease even further.
Costas said another reason for his concern over guns is that he's never seen a story where an athlete stopped a violent act because he was armed. However, the broadcaster said there are more stories than he can count, like the one involving Belcher. Pratt said Costas' statements simply aren't supported by the facts. He said most crimes thwarted by the mere brandishing of a firearm usually go unreported.
"There's some 4,000 instances a day when an American uses a gun to stop a criminal attack," said Pratt, who noted that accounts of self-defense usually only get attention in local media. "A lot of things just don't even get reported to the police, let alone to the newspapers. Once somebody has chased away a criminal, they don't really want the bother of going to the police."