COMMENTARY | In the wake of the horrifying events in Kansas City on Dec. 1 at the hands of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher, gun control has been in the limelight, thanks in large part to a column by Jason Whitlock that was quoted and used as the basis for Bob Costas’ commentary on Sunday Night Football.
But where is the commentary speaking out against domestic violence?
While a gun was the instrument that killed Kasandra Perkins, it was Belcher’s finger that pulled the trigger. Several times. Without the human being behind the gun, that weapon was nothing more than a paperweight.
The issue is not the weapon used in this horrendous murder-suicide. The issue is the incredibly selfish actions of Belcher.
According to Glenn E. Rice of the Kansas City Star, a friend of the couple reported that Belcher was mad at Perkins for staying out late at a concert with friends. Seven hours later, he shot Perkins multiple times in front of his own mother and his three-month-old daughter he shared with Perkins.
He then drove to the Chiefs’ practice facility, crashed the gate, and dramatically shot himself in the head right in front of a slew of witnesses, including head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli.
Belcher appears to have been a pretty upstanding guy, ironically joining a campus group at the University of Maine called Male Athletes Against Violence. As Eric Alderson of Yahoo! Sports reports, Belcher majored in child development and family relations in college.
This was an educated individual who–at some point, anyway–knew that domestic violence is wrong. He, however, made the conscious choice to allow displeasure over the mother of his child staying out late at a concert to boil over–seven hours later–into a situation that leaves two people dead, many others forever scarred by what they witnessed, and countless more devastated by what took place.
In the quest to understand how someone could behave in such a way, we blame the violent game Belcher played. We blame the Second Amendment. We blame the handgun.
But we seem to forget that Javon Belcher chose to engage in domestic violence rather than simply separating himself from the source of his anger until he was able to regain his composure. Instead of spending the night with a teammate or at a hotel, he chose to kill his girlfriend and orphan his child.
“The gun made these events easier to commit,” the argument goes.
That’s an easy path to take when a gun was the murder weapon. If Belcher had stabbed Perkins to death, instead, would we be preaching knife control? How about if he had beaten her to death? Would blunt objects be the subject of scrutiny?
Of course not. But as a society, we’re bent on blaming inanimate objects for the actions of those who wield them.
Belcher was the one who introduced the gun into the equation. He’s the one who escalated the argument to the point at which it involved people dying. He was determined to kill Perkins–after all, he shot her multiple times–so if a gun wasn’t there, who’s to say that he wouldn’t have found some other method to carry out his goal?
The blame falls squarely on Javon Belcher, not on the gun he used.
The overwhelming majority of football players at all levels of the game manage the violence of the sport and the stressors of relationships without resorting to murder-suicide. The overwhelming majority of gun owners manage to refrain from killing their significant others over coming home late from a concert and then turning the gun on themselves in front of multiple witnesses.
It’s a shame that national figures like Costas and Whitlock choose to use this horrendous act in Kansas City as a stage for stricter gun control when the real focus should be on the human being behind the act and how we can all come together in Perkins’ memory–and the memory of countless other victims around the world–to find a way to end domestic violence.