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COLUMN: Costas is one of the best, but wrong this time

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Statement on Kansas City tragedy reflects common misconception

By John Herndon

An interview with Bob Costas is still on my bucket list.

His insight into the good – and bad – of baseball is amazing. If you don't believe me, try to find a copy of his book, Fair Ball, talking about many of the ills of the game around the turn of the century. When put in that context, and seeing where it has headed since then is nothing short of amazing.

I also would love to talk with Costas about his days, fresh out of Syracuse,  as the voice of the Spirits of St. Louis in the ABA. His experiences calling games for a team that included Marvin Barnes and Fly Williams, recounted in Terry Pluto's “Loose Balls,” can only be termed priceless.

Costas is a broadcasters' broadcaster, one of the best around. He has been for many years and will be until he unplugs his microphone.

But he was wrong Sunday night. Very wrong.

I will have to admit, I didn't catch everything Costas said about the death of Kansas City Chiefs' player Jevon Belcher the day before. I had been watching the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles, but when Costas came on for his halftime segment, I was long gone from the room. I plopped back down in my chair just in time to hear Costas say if Belcher had not had a gun, he and his girlfriend would still be alive today.

Say what?

That if Belcher had not had a gun, he would not have killed his girlfriend or taken his own life?

Google informed me that is exactly what Costas said.

Obviously, Costas has a right to his opinion and, as a commentator, it is his job to elicit a response. In referencing the final few flawed paragraphs of a column by Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports, Costas called down the wrath of the National Rifle Association and just about every person that treasures his right to own a gun.

Let it be said that I am not a gun enthusiast and certainly don't agree with everything the NRA stands for. I don't have a gun in my house. At this time, I see little reason to have one and I have not been hunting in over 30 years. It's just not my cup of tea.

I don't see a problem with a reasonable waiting period for background checks as a prerequisite for gun ownership and can't see any need for someone not in the military or law enforcement to own a weapon designed mainly for killing other human beings.

But nothing should compel the government to take away the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms as granted by the Second Amendment to the Constitution. There are plenty of legitimate sporting and self-defense reasons to purchase many different varieties of firearms.

Costas, and those who would hold his view, apparently believe if you take handguns away, then it would end crimes such as this. They are certainly well-meaning, but wrongly assume that taking away legal ownership of an inanimate object will solve the problem of violence.

As if someone who is going to commit a crime really cares whether he gets his gun legally?

Costas’ thinking assumes the gun is the only way to commit the crime. And that is simply wrong.

What if Belcher, or any person who has used a firearm in committing a crime, had pulled out a Louisville Slugger to beat the mother of his child instead? Does that mean we shut down Hillerich and Bradsby?

Of course not.

What if someone uses a pillow to suffocate another? Do we ban them too? Do we all find another form of headrest?

Or if someone takes his hands to choke or beat someone, does that mean we cut everyone's hands off?

For that matter, do we shut down every restaurant because some abuse themselves by overeating and elevating the risk of heart attacks?

Do we take away the right to drive because some drive too fast, thereby taking lives, intentionally or recklessly?

Absurd? Absolutely. But they are, in essence, the very same arguments given about taking away a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

An old gun-enthusiast saying says “Guns don't kill people. People do.”

Simple, yet to the point. The inanimate object, whether it is a gun, a knife or a baseball bat, will only do what the person in control of it wants.

It is all about responsibility, safety and prudence.

Only when our society recognizes that people, not the things people use, cause the problems, will there ever be any progress in stopping tragedies like the one in Kansas City.

 

Comment at www.theandersonnews.com.