It’s pretty unusual for this writer to post anything from Sports Illustrated [SI], but this one merits attention. On Sunday, December 9, 2012, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King reported on NBC’s “Football Night in America” hat, following the murder-suicide committed by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher who shot his girlfriend dead, then turned the gun on himself, “at least seven NFL players have turned in their personal weapons.” According to the report, the players handed their guns over to their respective teams’ security personnel. One turned in multiple weapons, and another said that he turned in his guns because “he doesn’t trust himself around them.” Need I say how scary that statement is?
It reminds me of something I saw about 10 years ago at a Kansas City hotel. Walking past one of the hotel’s banquet rooms, I noticed a reception table that indicated that the event was for the same team in the news last week: the Kansas City Chiefs. There was a sign at the banquet-room entrance that said, “Please leave weapons at the door.” The fact that there needed to be such a sign–acknowledging, in the first place, that some of the team members in attendance would be carrying guns, and in the second place, needing to admonish them about not bringing their guns into an event where alcohol would be served–was astonishing.
The problem, quite obviously, has not gone away. The only thing that does seem to have gone away in the interim has been a rational debate about guns.
So, I was glad to see that, after this most recent tragedy, sportscaster Bob Costas stepped up and took on the topic. Costas, noted that if the linebacker hadn’t possessed a gun, “…he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.” Costas’ comments angered a lot of people in the sports and broadcasting worlds, further reinforcing the notion that speaking out against gun violence is somehow unacceptable behavior, even when it’s occurring right in front of you.
Just to review: According to Think Progress:
Studies show that having a gun in the home increases the chances of homicide two to three times, and gun death rates are seven times higher in states with high household gun ownership rates. The presence of a firearm in the home also increases the risk of homicide for women by five times and two-thirds of women killed with guns each year die in domestic disputes.
Gloria Shur Bilchik is a freelance writer and community volunteer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the editor of Occasional Planet. She views the preservation of progressive values as vital to making the US a humane, livable place for her children and grandchildren.