Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bob Costas not bullied

The true nature of the gun rights extremists has come into full view in the last few days. Many of them have unleashed their anger and vitriol against two sports commentators ( Jason Whitlock and Bob Costas) for daring to challenge the American gun culture in light of the Jovan Belcher murder/suicide. If you want to know how these folks operate, check out the Facebook page of Jason Whitlock. The rude, offensive, threatening comments coming from the gun bullies are frightening in their anger and vendetta-like nature. They even threatened other reasonable people who made comments in favor of Whitlock's column. One gun guy asked a man whose photo showed him holding a child ( which show up these days when you comment on Facebook posts) how it would feel to have his child snatched from him. Really. I don't make these things up. If you but read just a few of the gun bloggers on the subject, you will see what I mean. I have linked to just one of them in the next sentence. And while you are at it, please read the offensive and ugly comments on this blog. The lack of civility is evidence that the NRA and its minions are not interested in any reasonable discussion.

I am sure Bob Costas has experienced the same ugly stuff. On my last post, one of my readers wondered why those of us in the gun violence prevention movement block comments and keep the gun loons from being on our Twitter pages. No need to wonder. Just check the comments and the commentary coming from the far right. The proof is in plain sight. If these folks are interested in "discussion" they will have to "police" their own. No one wants to sit down and discuss anything with the likes of the gun bullies who troll blogs, twitter feeds and articles. We can only hope that nothing violent comes about as a result of this hatred towards Whitlock and Costas.

So, in spite of being bullied and harassed, Bob Costas has stood by his Sunday statement. I admire Costas even more now than I did after he first made his comments. He is not letting the NRA bullies intimidate him. Here is an article from Greg Mitchell at "The Nation" about the latest comments from Costas:
Bill Carter of The New York Times last night talked to Costas about his controversial halftime commentary. Costas now says, “I am emphatically not backing off from anything I said.” He called for “a combination of enlightened legislation and controls, coupled with an adjustment in our attitude toward guns.”
He added, “Common sense tells us the culture is overrun by guns and that many people who possess them are dangerous or careless.” He also rejected criticism of his comments as inappropriate for a football audience.
He said the criticisms of his commentary “hold no weight with me” because the same people saying that that was an inappropriate time and place to talk about the gun issue “would have thought it was fine if they agreed with what I was saying.”
Then, also at the Times today, columnist Frank Bruni explored the larger issue of football’s violent culture: “There’s something rotten in the NFL, an obviously dysfunctional culture that either brings out sad, destructive behavior in its fearsome gladiators or fails to protect them and those around them from it.”
Here’s my post with full text of Costa remarks Sunday and criticism from the likes of Fox & Friends.
The NRA is very quick to tell people not to mention guns or gun control after shootings. They tell us we are "dancing in the blood of victims." So they usually keep a low profile after high profile shootings. Not this time. Chris Cox, lobbyist for the NRA decided to get involved and had this to say about Costas's comments:
Only a media elitist, living a cloistered life inside the NBC newsroom, could let loose with such a woefully ignorant, ill-timed and irresponsible statement. Furthermore, the fact that Costas tried to partially hide behind a fellow journalist borders on cowardice.
Name calling and demeaning, as is the usual case. But there's more:
Seemingly, Costas has absolutely no knowledge of the fact that good men and women — and oftentimes, the physically weakest among us — rely on firearms as the only reasonable means of protecting themselves from would-be murderers, rapists and thugs.
Take the case of the elderly woman in Sarasota, Florida, who, earlier this year, used a handgun to fend off an attacker who broke through her kitchen window. “I was fearful of my life,” the grandmother tearfully told a 911 operator after she fired two shots at the intruder, causing him to flee.
Or the case of a young Oklahoma mother, who used a firearm to successfully defend herself and her three-month-old baby this past New Year’s Eve from a man armed with a 12-inch hunting knife who kicked in her door and came straight for her and her child.
On the other hand, consider the tragic reality of Bob Costas’ and Jason Whitlock’s gun-ban utopia.
Costas was not saying anything about guns used in self defense. Why did Cox bring it up? Because the NRA can't accept that reasonable people understand that more guns have not made us safer. So, let's not take the case of two Minnesota teens shot execution style by a "law abiding" gun owner with guns for self defense. Oh, and don't take the Trayvon Martin case when George Zimmerman allegedly shot him in self defense. And don't lets talk about Jordan Davis who was shot to death by a Florida "law abiding" gun owner because the music in his car was too loud. Let's not talk about those. And let's not talk about all of the mass shootings or domestic shootings. Let's ignore the gun suicides. Let's not talk about the 32 Americans shot every day in gun homicides or the 80 a day who are shot in total from homicides, suicides and accidental shootings. Oh, and by the way, did Costas or Whitlock say anything about banning guns? Raise your hand if you think they did. The NRA loves to throw that one in just for good measure. And more from Cox:
As is often the case with media talking heads, it’s doubtful that Bob Costas has any real understanding of the recklessness of his statements. However, ignorance is never a good excuse, and that’s especially true for someone like Bob Costas, who prides himself on being a responsible journalist.
Bob Costas offended millions of law-abiding, gun-owning football fans with his gun-ban rant. He not only owes every one of us an apology, but also a promise that, in the future, he’ll stick to doing what he’s paid very well to do: talk about sports.
Apology? Who apologizes to all of the victims of gun violence? Not the NRA, that's for sure. This is hypocrisy as far as the eye can see; not to mention hyperbole, fear and paranoia. I'm glad the NRA decided to weigh in this time so their agenda is laid bare for all to see. Maybe they should have stayed quiet. Bob Costas is not staying quiet. His appearance on MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell's The Last Word was heartening. Costas came to his conclusions on his own. No one told him to say what he said. Yet, he reflected the wisdom of the need for reasonable gun laws and changes in our dangerous gun culture. Here is the video of what he said:

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I couldn't have said it better myself. Costas is just saying what most Americans believe. His eloquence and resolve show that he strongly believes in what he said last Sunday during an NFL football game. Costas is a true advocate for stronger gun laws and changing the insane gun culture that leads to so many shootings in our country. Enough is enough. Thank you again Bob Costas for your courage, your resolve and your advocacy for common sense.


I call my readers' attention to the line in the statement made by NRA lobbyist Chris Cox, linked above. Here it is:" Seemingly, Costas has absolutely no knowledge of the fact that good men and women — and oftentimes, the physically weakest among us — rely on firearms as the only reasonable means of protecting themselves from would-be murderers, rapists and thugs." And now I ask my readers to check out this incident in Georgia involving a man in a motorized wheel chair shooting a woman in a car that happened to bump his cart. From the article:
Linda Hunnicutt, 65, had just pulled into the gas station in Macon shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday and stepped out of her Buick Lucerne when the man pulled a gun and fatally shot her, city police spokeswoman Jami Gaudet said.
"The whole encounter, I can tell you, was very brief," Gaudet said. "Everybody is just reeling from this."
Hunnicutt had driven onto the gas pump bay when the two vehicles made contact, police say.
Hunnicutt, described as a homemaker who lives a few miles from the station — was shot once in the chest with a 38-caliber handgun, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.
The suspect, Frank Louis Reeves, was apprehended in the gas station parking lot. He was being held on a murder charge at the Bibb County Jail, Gaudet said. She didn't know whether he has an attorney, and jail records do not list one.
More will come out about this incident. It doesn't sound like self defense to me. Does it to you? An innocent woman is dead in a senseless shooting. The NRA wants the "weakest among us" to carry guns. They "rely on firearms as the only reasonable means of protecting themselves from would-be murderers, rapists and thug." How does the 65 year old woman fit into any of those categories? Senseless.


I am not the only one praising Bob Costas and finding the comments from the far right extreme gun freaks. This blog by Will Bunch, written on Huffington Post points out the insanity of someone like Costas daring to use the "g" word as in "gun" on national T.V. From the article:
For that, Bob Costas was all but crucified. You can read the comments on a conservative, gun-friendly site like Free Republic, where the veteran sportscaster is called "ridiculous," "a pompous little jerk" and "a disgusting leftist midget," among the comments I can print. (The discussion thread is headlined "Vanity," a consistent theme, that the only reason one would want to talk about gun violence is to call attention to himself.) The chatter on Twitter, from the famous or non-famous, were only slightly better. Some disagreed with what Costas said -- all fine and good -- but many more were outraged that he raised the subject, even during a block in which he delivers commentary every week.
The worst of the worst, in my opinion, was a pretend journalist for Deadspin named Sean Newell who was so delighted to see the formation of a torches-and-pitchforks crowd on the Internet that he raced as fast as he could to get to the front of it -- the better to get tons of traffic for his website by attacking Costas and his "sanctimonious horse(bleep)."
The courageous Newell wrote that the murder and suicide was "sad and abhorrent"...
But it is only relevant, unfortunately, to many of us because he is an athlete. So how does the team react? Will they mourn him? Honor him? Is that appropriate? How will media paint the picture? These are all interesting questions to expose to a national audience. Instead the day ended with just another angry old guy yelling from his porch.
There you have it, America. How the (2-10, for what it's worth) Kansas City Chiefs react to a young woman's murder is "important." Gun culture, not important.
Bob Costas broke the fundamental rule of American discourse: Not knowing when or where it's appropriate to talk about guns. Rule No. 1: It's completely inappropriate to discuss the gun issue within 48 -- no, actually make that 72 hours after any kind of high-profile use of guns. This was the point that Brian Kilmeade made so astutely this morning on Fox & Friends, when he said:
I just don't know if it's appropriate enough on a Sunday night, less than 24 hours after the guy took his own life and killed his girlfriend, the mother of his baby, to make that stance.
There's much more from this blogger. I hope you will read it. It verifies and amplifies what I wrote in this blog post. It is heartening that so many sane people are taking the insane and crazed gun extremists to task. It's about time that their vitriol, hatred, rudeness, name calling and threats get more national attention. Some of us have put up with them for years now. They are a scary and scared group who are willing to say anything when they don't have to look someone in the eye to say it. I challenged a gun guy who commented on my blog when I still allowed anonymous comments if he would say what he wrote to me to his wife's, sister's or mother's face. I didn't hear much from him after that.


I just love the title( The Great Gun Gag) of this editorial by Timothy Egan of the New York Times:
But you cannot talk about the 300 million or more guns circulating in private hands in the United States. The most armed society in the world, ranked first among 179 nations in the rate of gun ownership, had 9,146 gun homicides in 2009. The same year, Canada had 173. But don’t bring that up.
In Florida, it was against the law — until the law was blocked by a federal judge last summer — for hospital doctors to even ask about firearms ownership of victims, even though gunshot wounds account for 1 in 25 emergency room visits.
Conservatives complain about anti-free-speech vigilantes who keep incendiary voices of the right from being heard on college campuses, and they have a valid point. But some of these same First Amendment defenders are the first to smother any talk about the American weapons culture. The gun gag rules. (...) 
Going into a theater or a mall in America can be a risky thing, as recent mass shootings have shown. I just returned from Idaho, where people are buying guns at a record clip because of the delusional fear that President Obama is going to take them away. The safest place in Idaho, by far, is just inside the security line at the Boise airport, where a big sign warns people that they will soon be entering a mandatory gun-free zone.
How these basic truths came to be treated as unmentionables is a tribute to the gun lobby’s power to strangle debate on even simple safety questions. At the same time, they have all but shut down public health research into gun violence.
For the politicians and pundits who do the gun industry’s bidding, the First Amendment does not apply to the Second Amendment. It took a sportscaster, accustomed to parsing the nuances of a stunt blitz, to break the code of shameful silence.
Thank you Mr. Egan, for speaking out. Your voice has been added to the many who are sick and tired of the NRA trying to stop any serious discussion about a serious national public health and safety crisis.


  1. The problem with relaxing gun laws and making it easy for the wrong people to have access to guns is that it is backfiring on them.

    Pretty much everyone suffers from gun violence whether directly or indirectly.

    The cost to society makes it absurd to think there is a "right" to own a gun.

  2. Howdy Japete,
    Mr. Costas makes his living on television. So I'm pretty sure he knew exactly what kind of response he would get when he made his statement. The only people he really has to answer to are his bosses in TV-land. He made his statement on the job, so they have a say-so. In fact, I imagine what he said was possibly reviewed before the broadcast.
    As for the comments made by viewers, well, that's a result of the 1st amendment multiplied by the perception of anonymity people feel on the internet. It isnt right, it just is. A larger number voice their opinion respectfully.
    The freedom of the media and the internet is a double edged sword, allowing almost unlimited freedom in speech, and also bringing out the worst in that speech due to its lack of accountability.

    1. Sounds like you are trying to excuse the offensive and rude and threatening comments from the gun guys, Mark.

    2. No I'm not Japete. Everyone is responsible for their actions, and their speech. But I've noticed a general disregard for courtesy and respect on the Internet. For example, go to almost any news article on yahoo news and look at the comments. Even after the downright obscene comments are removed, you still see inflammatory and disrespectful comments. It isn't just the " gun guys" or gun articles. So the problem is more widespread than just gun issues.

    3. I am writing about gun issues on this blog. The gun guys are particularly offensive on any gun blog or any article written about the gun issue. I am aware of the general incivility on the Internet. I suspect that the same "gun guys" who leave their ugly comments on articles are some of the same folks who leave their ugly comments about other issues. Don't now try to distract from my point by trying to generalize in order to avoid the subject of this post.

  3. We certainly are living in a society that's turning more coarse as time passes. It's hard to have a meaningful conversation on any number of topics due to the high level of disrespect.
    But I'd bet that many of the worst offenders are young men who will hopefully grow out of it. (Not that I have any personal experiance on the topic, please understand.)
    Regarding discussions on the gun issue, my situation gives me a useful perspective in that I'm a custom gun maker, gun owner, hunter. And like many other such "gun" persons, a large & fairly silent majority in fact, I fully support tightly written, well funded and well enforced sensible gun laws - something this country does not have. Our laws, on at all government levels, are poorly written, not adequately funded or enforced. Changing the situation would not make gun crime extinct, but would truly save many lives.