Gun control - if not now, when?
Commentary by Dr. Joshua Wright
Was Costas Right?
Perhaps I was among a minority who applauded Bob Costas during his recent rant on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” In voicing his opinion on the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins, the mother of Belcher’s daughter, Costas enraged anti-gun control supporters.
“You want some perspective … it comes from Jason Whitlock. ‘Our current gun culture,’ Whitlock wrote, ‘ensures that more domestic disputes end in tragedy. Handguns do not enhance safety. They exacerbate our flaws and bait us into embracing confrontation.’ ”
Costas, an Emmy winning sportscaster, was told to shut up and stick to sports. Was Costas right? Heck, yes. If Belcher and Perkins mean nothing to you, how about these names: Daniel Barden and Olivia Engel. They were two of the 20 first-graders fatally shot at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The day of the tragedy, many politicians said it was inappropriate to discuss gun control.
When is it the right time?
“If having dozens gunned down in an elementary school doesn’t motivate Washington, what will?” asked Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
“This time, our response must be more than regret, sorrow and condolence,” said Mark Kelley, husband of former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., who survived a 2011 mass shooting.
After Giffords’ shooting, politicians and pro-gun supporters said wait. Then came the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre in July 2012. Weeks later, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and New York’s Empire State Building were shot up. Again, people said wait. On Dec. 11, a gunman attacked a mall in Oregon. Three days later, Sandy Hook was attacked.
In a 1963 letter addressing those who told blacks to wait on gaining equality, Martin Luther King Jr. warned that waiting impeded progress.
In 1786, delegates convened in Annapolis for a meeting that led to the framing of the Constitution the following year. Four years later, the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution. Pro-gun supporters believe gun control will threaten their constitutional rights. Having guns for self-defense and hunting is one thing; owning semi-automatic weapons is another. Nancy Lanza, the slain mother of the Sandy Hook shooter, had such weapons in her home. Her son, Adam, killed her, 26 others and then himself with three of her guns.
Gun violence, be it mass tragedies, domestic violence or gang wars, can happen anywhere. There are at least 10 gun shops in the Salisbury area. One store in The Centre at Salisbury has a wall of guns for purchase. Imagine if one of those guns got into the hands of someone intent on shooting up the mall or its movie theater.
President Obama hinted at gun control during a Sandy Hook memorial service. As someone who nearly lost his best friend to a shooting at a Maryland daycare center three years ago, I hope the president heeds Costas’ plea for gun control.
Dr. Wright is a history professor at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore