BAYHAM: Blaming The Gun, Not The Murderer
“If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would be alive today.”
-Fox Sports Commentator Jason Whitlock, approvingly quoted by NBC Sports commentator Bob Costas
Driving across predominantly white suburban New Orleans, you’ll see a smattering of small white and blue yard signs that read “Thou Shall Not Kill”.
The lawn signs are part of the New Orleans Archdiocese’s public campaign to combat the city’s high murder rate. Archbishop Gregory Aymond has also requested churches to recite at the conclusion of all Sunday Masses a special “family prayer” asking for divine intervention to stem the tide of violence that is as closely associated with New Orleans’ image as its music and food.
While the effort has good intentions, the signs with the shortest of God’s commandments are literally out of place: the neighborhoods where you’re likely to see the placards are far removed from the blood stained asphalt of the inner city.
Yet I would wager that gun ownership is as prevalent, if not more so, in the relative murder-free corners of suburbia as it is in the violent inner city.
Is American society violent because of the accessibility of guns?
Drugs such as cocaine and marijuana are also illegal, though these contraband substances can be obtained without too much difficulty.
Restricting the sale of handguns would not lead to a significant reduction in crime but would have the opposite effect of creating an expanded weapons black market. Brazil has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world yet its murder rate is much higher than that of the US.
Banning handgun ownership on a national-scale would in essence make criminals out of millions of citizens who will refuse to surrender their weapons, thus redirecting law enforcement resources on individuals who are not a part of the current problem.
Whitlock and Costas framed weapons manufacturers as the villains in the story by pinning the blame on the hardware instead of the individual who pulled the trigger. Their words diminish the concept of personal responsibility and perpetuate the escapist mentality that “it’s always somebody else’s fault”.
Nobody knows why Belcher murdered his girlfriend and then drove to his team’s practice facility to say goodbye to the general manager and coaches before taking his own life, though the linebacker was cognizant that he had committed an unforgivable act and expressed a degree of remorse in his final words and may have believed that he was atoning for it with his last act.
It would be fair to assume that what happens on any given day on the most dangerous streets of New Orleans, Detroit or Chicago is not what took place in Kansas City on Saturday morning.
The Perkins/Belcher tragedy is probably closer to the Benoit murder-suicide in 2007 when pro wrestler Chris Benoit fatally strangled his wife and suffocated his seven-year-old son, placed Bibles near their bodies and hanged himself in their Atlanta-area home.
Head trauma suffered from his two-decades in the ring has been cited as a potential cause for Benoit’s actions. Pro wrestling might be “scripted”, but the near-daily physical abuse endured by the talent is very real.
The demons that tormented Jovan Belcher had more to do with Kasandra Perkins’s death than the weapon.
While the Belcher story gets the press, the bigger problem for America are the “faceless” young killers who don’t value their own lives let alone those of their “nameless” victims.
Rather than just looking at the weapon used to do the deed (the easy/convenient way), why not consider the influences that condition the young murderers of tomorrow by poisoning their minds and numbing their souls?
That’s where accountability gets uncomfortable for media personalities and others, including the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
The root of our violent culture is not Smith and Wesson but the breakdown of the family unit, moral relativism that devalues life at all stages and the expunging of religion from society.
Children who do not fear a mother indifferent to their behavior, a father too many do not know and a God that is reduced to body-art and jewelry are left with only the fear of losing what passes for “respect” in today’s culture of violence.
Whitlock and Costas exploited their respective platforms and the murder-suicide to advance their “gun reform” political agenda while ignoring the cultural and societal decay they professionally thrive in.
As for the Whitlock commentary echoed by Costas, the real issue isn’t the dead football player’s gun ownership but his lack of self-control and abusive treatment of the mother of their child.
If Javon Belcher had not committed domestic violence against his girlfriend, their daughter would still have a mom and dad.
Whitlock and Costas might be inclined to let Belcher off the hook by blaming the gun, but society should know better.