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Rudimentary Facts Refute Bob Costas on America’s “Gun Culture” Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, December 06 2012
Anyone even superficially familiar with contemporary Second Amendment debate, let alone anyone addressing the nation, should be readily familiar with the simple fact that violent crime continues its long-term decline during the same period in which gun “control” laws have receded and firearm possession has increased.

Bob Costas is perfectly free to unleash his shopworn leftist views upon audiences who’d probably prefer to enjoy a simple football game. 

And frankly, given the seas in which Costas swims, he’d probably earnestly deny that his views are leftist at all, just as Dan Rather once named the New York Times when asked to identify what he considered a centrist news source. 

Nevertheless, is it too much to ask that a sportscaster who considers himself fit to instruct lowly viewers about socio-political matters first fortify himself with relevant rudimentary facts before doing so?  No law requires it, but his own sense of professionalism and self-regard should. 

For those just returning from a voyage to Mars or who couldn’t care less about sports, this controversy stems from the horrific acts last weekend of Jovan Belcher, a professional football player for the Kansas City Chiefs.  After murdering his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, who was also the mother of his child, Mr. Belcher traveled to the Chiefs’ stadium and committed suicide as his coach and general manager watched in horror. 

The following evening on NBC’s Sunday night football broadcast, Mr. Costas exploited the crime to air his predictable views on firearms by quoting a columnist who equated the National Rifle Association to the Ku Klux Klan: 

“You want some actual perspective on this?  Well, a bit of it comes from the Kansas City-based writer Jason Whitlock, with whom I do not always agree, but who today said it so well that we may as well just 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 teenage boys bloodied 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 connection to football, will be analyzed.  Who knows?  But here,’ wrote Whitlock, ‘is what I believe:  If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.’” 

Well, that will certainly come as welcome news to Nicole Brown-Simpson.  Good thing Costas’s former NBC partner O.J. Simpson “didn’t possess a gun” during his famous encounter with her, right?   

First of all, anyone even superficially familiar with contemporary Second Amendment debate, let alone anyone addressing the nation, should be readily familiar with the simple fact that violent crime continues its long-term decline during the same period in which gun “control” laws have receded and firearm possession has increased. 

Second, according to Gallup, gun possession has reached a two-decade high.  Over that same two decades, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that homicide and domestic violence have significantly declined.  As economist John Lott, Jr., the famed author of More Guns, Less Crime noted this week: 

“The question is the net effect of guns, and what Costas ignores is that guns save a lot more lives than they cost each year.  And that’s not even mentioning the roughly 2 million times a year that people use guns defensively. 

"Whether people like Costas like it or not, the facts speak for themselves.  Murder rates consistently rise when guns are banned.  This is not just a U.S. phenomenon in places such as Washington, D.C. and Chicago, but has been observed worldwide.  When guns are banned, even in island nations such as the U.K., Ireland, and Jamaica, the pattern has been the same.  The problem is that gun bans disarm law-abiding good people, not criminals.  With disarmed victims, crime is easier to commit.” 

And here’s another interesting item from Gallup. 

In a 1990 survey, 78% said that “the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict than they are now.”  Only 19% disagreed.  Today, in contrast, a 54% to 44% majority says that “the laws covering the sale of firearms should be made less strict than they are now.”  Further, 60% of respondents in 1959 agreed that “there should be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by police and other authorized persons.”  Today, just 29% hold that opinion. 

Accordingly, since 1990, the “gun culture” that Costas and Whitlock criticize became more pronounced, firearm possession increased and conceal-carry laws and “castle doctrine” laws allowing people to defend their ground have proliferated.  In 1998, only eighteen states possessed right-to-carry firearms laws.  Today, that number has more than doubled to thirty-nine. 

Yet we experienced a decrease in crime and violence, not an increase. 

Or consider so-called “assault weapons” laws.  The federal ban took effect in 1994, but expired in 2004.  The anti-Second Amendment lobby predicted increased murder and violent crime upon its expiration, but rates instead continued to decline. 

In contrast, other nations such as England have attempted to “get rid of all guns,” as Cohen suggests, only to see crime and violence rise.  The 21st century reality is that more armed means less dangerous. 

Finally, let’s discuss the American “gun culture” they attack a little bit more.  Could a Holocaust that extended from deep Russia to the tip of France have occurred in America with its armed populace?  Could the type of inhumanity suffered at the hands of tyrants in places like China, North Korea, Cuba or Rwanda have occurred in our “gun culture?” 

Not likely. 

Costas and Whitlock are free to prefer those alternative cultures.  But it would be nice if they familiarized themselves with basic realities before lecturing the rest of us. 

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Voters in how many states will be asked in the November 2014 mid-term elections to accept or reject state-wide ballot measures to legalize the recreational use of marijuana?
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