Sunday, December 02, 2012

When defense gets offensive

So I just heard that Bob Costas made what amounted to an anti-gun segment during a football game tonight, prompted by the murder-suicide of Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher. I haven't yet seen the segment, but I do know Bob's main point was that if Jovan didn't have a gun, he and his girlfriend would still be alive today. 

Along with the usual suspects' outrage about how politics has no place in anything if it's liberal, another line I've read 100 times already is this: If Belcher was determined enough to kill his girlfriend and himself, he would have found a way no matter what. Also, Second Amendment. Rah rah. Go America.

But here's the thing.

The difference between handguns and virtually all other types of weapons in existence is time. A handgun rewards poor impulse control. Whereas crossbows, knives, bats, shivs, shanks, nun-chucks, brass knuckles, blunt objects and other weapons can be deadly, today's modern guns can be picked up in a split-second's time and used to end someone's life. No thought, no skill, no technical limitations, just anger and go. (This goes even more so for automatic and semiautomatic assault weapons.)

Nothing like this existed when the Second Amendment was drafted. I wonder how their existence would have affected the wording. It's hard to imagine that in their interest to preserve an armed citizenry, the Founding Fathers wanted Americans to be able to kill fellow citizens on a whim. To do so would seem to contradict freedom.

So while guns don't kill people, and it's fair to argue whether or not Costas' spiel was in an appropriate venue, I think he's right. I don't know what was going on in Jovan's head — none of us do — but my bet is that if he'd had a weapon other than a gun in the act of attacking his girlfriend, he might have failed to kill her or at least had a few moments to reconsider following through with it (in which time he might have cooled down and/or she could have escaped). And perhaps, just perhaps, he wouldn't have decided his life was over and killed himself in a second round of rash impulse.

The Second Amendment, steroids and stress don't even factor into what is a much bigger problem, one that guns make especially dangerous — momentary lapses of judgment. 

As long as that's an epidemic in a country with such lax gun laws, America will have a problem.

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