Bob Costas appeared on the O’Reilly Factor Wednesday night in an effort to explain his ill-informed comments about guns that he made over the weekend. Quoting a local sport’s writer, Costas said that the Kansas City linebacker who killed himself and his girlfriend this past weekend would still be alive today “if Javon Belcher didn’t possess a gun.”
Bill O’Reilly invited Costas onto his show to clear away the “confusion” that has resulted from his comments. But rather than set the record straight, Costas only made things worse. Gun Owners of America has analyzed the top seven bone-headed or factually inaccurate statements that Costas made on the O’Reilly show. The top three are listed below:
1. Myth: Costas says that “far more often,” guns do more harm than good.
The truth, however, is the exact opposite. Even using the conservative figures issued by the Clinton Justice Department in 1997, Americans are 50 times more likely to use a gun in self-defense than to be killed by a firearm.
The guns-are-more-likely-to-harm-you theory comes from a 1980s study which has since been totally discredited. The author, for years, hid the fact that the homicide victims in the study were actually killed by guns which were NOT in the home. In other words, the victims were NOT murdered with their own guns!
The fact is, guns save far more lives than they take. If Costas really wants to press the issue, there are more student deaths related to high school football than to guns. Has football ever saved anyone’s life? No.
So how can Costas support a game that claims more student lives than guns?
2. Myth: Costas says there should be “more comprehensive and effective controls on the sale of guns.”
Costas says he never used the words “gun control” in discussing the Belcher murder-suicide. While technically true, he did admit to Bill O’Reilly that he favors greater gun restrictions.
“None of that impinges on someone’s Second Amendment rights or their right to protect their home and their family,” Costas said.
Well, if gun bans and background checks are consistent with Second Amendment rights -- never mind the words “shall not be infringed” -- then perhaps Mr. Costas won’t mind similar restrictions on his right to speak in front of a microphone?
After all, his comments have caused severe angst on the part of many Americans this week. And not only his comments, but one could make an argument that, in general, the media incites people to anger and violence on a semi-regular basis.
Therefore, if we were to curb (or ban) most or all of the media’s broadcasts, then one could argue that we would live in a far safer environment:
* Remember the environmentalist wacko who, in 2010, held several people hostage in the Discovery Communications building in Silver Spring Maryland? James J. Lee confessed he had an “awakening” after watching Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth -- an “awakening” which convinced him the planet would be better off without humans and which drove him to take hostages in order to protest the Discovery Channel’s programming.
* Or what about Timothy McVeigh, who was driven to blow up the federal Murrah Building in Oklahoma City after watching the media’s coverage of tanks assaulting the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas?
In both of these cases, the media played a significant role in stoking people’s anger. Thus, it could be argued with some cogency, that gagging the media would result in less violence and bloodshed.
If we are going to use pragmatic arguments for restricting the Second Amendment, then don’t be surprised when that same standard gets used to infringe upon the freedoms protected by the First Amendment.
3. Myth: Costas says America needs to curb its “easy access to guns.”
Despite what Costas claims, “easy access” to firearms is NOT the main cause of violence. When Washington, DC made it virtually impossible for anyone to legally obtain a firearm in 1976, Washington quickly became the nation’s “Murder Capital.”
But when the Supreme Court struck down Washington’s gun ban in 2008, gun ownership once again became legal in the District. Residents began purchasing thousands of firearms, and murders in the nation’s capital immediately dropped to a 45-year low.
People are less safe when they enter a “gun free zone,” but have a better chance of protecting themselves when they can easily access a firearm and use it for protection.
That’s the difference between two border towns: Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas. In Juarez, people are disarmed, they live in fear, and criminals still manage to get a hold of firearms. But in El Paso, which was ranked the safest big city in 2010, average citizens can carry firearms concealed … they have “easy access” to them … and they live in peace.
The verdict? Easy access to guns keeps people much safer than the alternative. And Bob Costas should just stick to sportscasting.
Erich Pratt is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America, a grassroots lobbying organization with 300,000 members.