For the last week and a half, the big news in my world has been Bob Costas, and his rant against guns during halftime of an NFL game on 2 December. Costas, bless his heart, had no idea what he was talking about. But then, I guess when your job is to talk about what other people are doing, instead of actually doing something yourself, you can’t exactly claim heredity from the deep end of the gene pool.
My brother hung a sign in our bathroom when we were kids that said ‘Be sure brain is engaged before putting mouth in gear.’ Good advice, but that doesn’t work when there’s no fuel in the tank. And Costas’ tank, bless his heart, is sucking wind when it comes to guns.
I was going to leave this one alone, since it’s been so long since it happened, and everyone, including me, had more of Costas than they could stand after about five minutes. Honestly, I didn’t think it was possible for someone to make me miss Howard Cosell, and then Costas came along. But the whole world seems to still be talking about this thing, so my two cents won’t break the bank.
The thing that makes Bob’s latest attack of foot-in-mouth disease so ridiculous is not that it was inappropriate, which it certainly was, or that he didn’t have a right to say it and NBC a right to air it, which they certainly did. The problem was not even that he was speaking out against a revered constitutional right, using one amendment in the Bill of Rights to attack another. The problem was that he was wrong.
Ronald Reagan once said, “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant, it’s that they know so much that just isn’t so.” Bob Costas knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that in every case where a citizen owns a gun, that gun makes that citizen less safe, rather than more. And what Bob, bless his heart, knows for certain is certainly, absolutely wrong.
Statistics, which you can look up for yourself, since I’m too lazy to tell you where I got them, show that there are maybe 100,000 cases per year in the U.S. where people are injured or killed in gun related incidents. About 30,000 of those are fatal, where someone ends up DRT (Dead Right There). Bob, and others like him, use those numbers to say that the problem is that there are too many guns in the country, and we need to By George Do Something About It.
What they won’t admit, because they don’t know it, because they don’t want to know it, is that those stats are grossly misleading. Not as misleading as the people quoting them, but still.
What they don’t admit is that, of those incidents, a good many are cases where police shot bad guys. Or where good guys who were attacked in their homes or places of business or at Batman movies shot bad guys. When that happens, it’s a Good Thing, but the antis don’t get that.
Another large portion of those stats signify cases where one bad guy shot another bad guy, often using a gun he got from another bad guy, who stole it from a good guy. Or another bad guy. Or something. It’s probably wrong of me, but I can’t manage to lose much sleep over self-inflicted stupidity, especially when it’s illegal.
Some of those stats represent accidents, and accidents are always bad, but those are lower now than they’ve ever been in the U.S. Matter of fact, even though November 2012 set a new record for most gun sales in one month in America, ever, and Black Friday set a new record for most gun sales in one day in America, ever, and even though gun sales have continued to rise steadily for the last three decades, gun crime has been falling steadily during the same period. Pity the same can’t be said for run-on sentences.
But all those stats, despite their misuse by dim-witted sports announcers, don’t tell the most important part of the story. The antis can still, even if they use those stats correctly, point to instances where Billy Joe shot Joey Bill at the dance hall because Joey Bill was making moves on Bobby Sue, and they can say, “This is senseless.” And they’re right. And even though Billy Joe could just as easily have used the tire iron from his pickup, he didn’t.
The most important part of the story, though, is that every year in America, guns are used two and a half million times to prevent crime. And that’s only the incidents that are reported. I imagine the number is probably three times that high. It’s not news when no one pulls a trigger.
We haven’t even gotten to Jason Whitlock, the writer Costas was quoting when he managed to alienate 100 million Americans on national television, but we don’t have time for Whitlock, bless his heart. And that’s OK, because he’s not worth our time any more than Costas is.
But don’t worry about people like Costas and Whitlock. They ultimately do more good than harm, by giving people like me openings like this to explain truths like these. These liberal sports yakkers are like the flies we used to release during the 70s to eradicate screwworms. Irritating, but impotent.
Costas needs his own sports show. He could call it ‘Wide World of Whoops . . .’
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who would like to thank everyone who called, wrote, and came by personally to express condolences for the loss of his dog, Diva. Sincerely. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org