A Culture of Guns in Not a Culture of Violence
By now most Americans have heard the tragic story of the deaths of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Belcher, and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. For those who’ve not, I will try to synopsize the story as I understood it from NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, as relayed to the audience of NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast. As Costas regales, the tragedy started when Belcher got into argument with his girlfriend (and the mother of his daughter), 22-year old Perkins. As the argument escalated, both Belcher and Perkins were too distracted to notice that a gun had slipped into the room unobserved. Taking advantage of the distraction, the gun then jumped out from behind the door, fatally shooting Perkins, as Belcher could only watch helplessly, horrified.
So distraught was Belcher at the killing of his baby’s mama that he fled to the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice facility, where he breathlessly recalled, to the listening ears of his coach and general manager, the events of just a short time earlier. Compounding the earlier tragedy, Belcher was again distracted by his retelling of the killing, and was therefore caught off guard by the same gun which had killed his girlfriend. Unbeknownst to Belcher, the gun had followed him to the practice facility, where it refused to allow Belcher to reveal the horrible truth, gunning him down in front of the coach and GM before the real story could be told.
The saddest thing is that, had the gun not been around, Belcher would not have escalated the argument, and neither he nor Perkins would be dead. You see, it is inconceivable that Belcher would have resorted to violence had not the gun been in the vicinity. It is the gun’s fault that these deaths occurred, and a society that embraces the gun culture. Belcher was not responsible for any of this, only the gun. Just ask Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. Oh wait, they were stabbed to death, with O.J. Simpson unable to subdue the knife before it killed. So maybe it is the fault of not only our gun culture, but of our knife culture. Of course, that doesn’t account for Dianne Helne (baby mama of former NFL wide receiver Antonio Bryant) or the ex-girlfriend of NFL running back Larry Johnson, both of whom were strangled by them. So maybe the problem is a culture of guns, knives, and man hands.
According to the bloviating Costas, “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…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 Jason Whitlock, is what I believe: ‘If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.’”
This is, of course, ridiculous. The “culture of guns” has no more to do with these deaths than a “culture of spoons” have to do with the fact that Roseanne Barr and Rosie O’Donnell (two uber left-wing blowhards with substantial girth excessively disproportionate to their verticality) are rotund.
Unsurprisingly though, Costas, joined by a legion of other left-wing pseudo-philosophers from the Hollywood ranks and liberal intelligentsia, continues to attack the Second Amendment’s protection of our right to arm and defend ourselves as the culprit in these tragedies. The logic is stunningly infantile. In essence, they are saying fatal violence is caused by accessibility to weaponry, and absent such weaponry, humanity would lead a peaceful, violence-free existence. How then, does one explain the thousands of violent assaults using only hands and feet that occur each year? How ironic that it is the same Hollywood-types who’ve amassed incredible wealth by producing movies and television shows which are saturated with, and glorify, violence, now lecture us on the tragedy of that same violence, while taking no responsibility for it.
Clearly, the problem is one of culture, but not one of GUN culture. America has the highest level of gun ownership in the world, estimated at 250-280 million guns, with approximately 40-50% of households being armed (an average of three firearms per gun-owning household). In 2011, firearm background checks performed using the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is arguably the best indicator of gun sales since it tracks each time someone buys a gun, showed that 16.5 million Americans purchased a gun. This year the numbers are even higher, with final gun sales for 2012 predicted to be nearly 10% higher than 2011’s all-time record. Yet according to the same FBI’s crime statistics, violent crime was down 4% in 2011, which continued a trend of decreasing violent crime.
In 2005, amid a cacophony of lamentations from leftist anti-gun “prophets” which predicted a massive increase in gun violence and blood running through the streets, Florida passed the “Castle Doctrine” which, in essence, provided protection for citizens who used deadly force in defense of themselves, their families, their homes and property. We were warned that it would turn into the Old West, with shootouts in the streets between former law-abiding citizens who would succumb to the lure of vigilante justice, gunning each other down for traffic infractions. Yet not only has that prophesied scenario never come to fruition, the opposite has actually occurred. In fact, irony of ironies, statistically speaking, the cities with the highest rates of gun-related crime are those that have the most restrictive gun ownership laws.
Why? Because most criminals are not stupid. They’d much rather commit crime where victims are disarmed by law, increasing the odds their victims will be defenseless. That is why areas with the highest rate of gun ownership tend to have the lowest levels of violent crime. How many friends and relatives of those killed in the massacres at Columbine or Virginia Tech now wish a gun-carrying citizen had been around, as happened with Jeanne Assam, who in 2007 bravely defended the parishioners of New Life Church in Colorado Springs when she opened fire on the gunman who’d entered her church and started firing into the congregation? She killed him, and saved untold lives in the process.
Nearby Kennesaw, Georgia, passed a law in 1982 requiring every head of household to own and maintain a gun. As with Florida, there were predictions of Wild West shootouts. Also like Florida, this never materialized. In fact, despite population increasing by nearly 600% since 1982, Kennesaw still has had not one single resident involved in a fatal shooting, whether as an attacker, victim, or bystander. Not only have there been no shooting deaths in a quarter century, but the crime rate has actually decreased by more than 50%, even with the enormous population increase.
If we want to decrease the occurrence of such tragedies as occurred with Belcher and Perkins, we’d be better served to focus not on the tools, which can be used for defensive as well as offensive purposes, but on the cultural trends with lead to such tragedies. Statistically, incidences of domestic violence, as well as indicators of future criminal activity, are lower when the household has a married father and mother raising children together. So rather than trying to restrict gun ownership, why don’t we try to strengthen marriage and families, which will not only reduce crime, but reduce poverty and strengthen our society as well?