December 4 2012
Jovan Belcher: The Issue Wasn't the Gun
Predictably, Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher’s murder of his girlfriend followed by his suicide has ignited a discussion of gun control.
Judge for yourself if you think that the firearm was the problem that night. The New York Post reports:
Belcher appeared to understand the gravity of his actions on Saturday morning immediately after blowing away girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, mother of his 3-month-old daughter, according to a dramatic narrative painted by the Kansas City Star newspaper.
Belcher had had quite a night before the killings:
Hours earlier, Belcher had a boozy dinner with another woman and spent the night at her apartment before going home, sources told The Post yesterday.
After dinner and drinks Friday night at a local tavern, the Long Island native Belcher took the woman, Brittni Glass, to her home, but spent the next several hours asleep in his Bentley outside her building, neighbors said.
After cops roused him from his drunken slumber at about 2:30 a.m., Belcher went inside Glass’ building and re-emerged about four hours later.
“I was with him that night, that’s it,” a reluctant Glass told The Post.
Belcher drove away at about 6:45 a.m., making the 10-minute ride to the home he shared with Perkins.
The couple fought and Belcher’s mom reportedly told cops she heard her son say something to the effect of: “You can’t talk to me like that!”
NBC sports announcer Bob Costas used the tragedy as an occasion to unburden himself of a few platitudes about gun control during halftime of Football Night in America. He found the murder-suicide “nearly unfathomable.” Are you kidding? Belcher comes across as somebody who is so lacking in self-control as to make something of this sort inevitable.
And we’re talking about gun control? How about self-control? The gun was not the problem—Belcher was. And it started before that night. The unmarried couple has a three-month-old daughter and he was out getting drunk with another woman?
Belcher sounds like a thoroughly despicable character. He had punched through a window because he was “upset with a girl.” “Our wish is for Kasi to be remembered for the love she shared with us all. Kasi will be truly missed,” the Perkins family said in a statement. Kasi would have been better off if she had not shared her propensity to love with a violent man.
It is indicative of something unfortunate that all we can talk about is guns. It would be considered judgmental to comment on Belcher’s “lifestyle,” but that is what killed him and Kasandra Perkins.
There may be a mitigating factor: I obviously don’t see Belcher as a victim, but Rich Lowry makes the interesting suggestion that the NFL might bear some responsibility:
If it proves to have any larger lessons, the Belcher story will tell us more about the NFL than the NRA. According to a friend’s account reported by the website Deadspin, Belcher “was dazed and was suffering from short-term memory loss” after his last start. The source described him as suffering from a “combination of alcohol, concussions and prescription drugs.”
Nearly simultaneously with Belcher’s murder-suicide, Boston University researchers published a study that found, in the words of a Reuters report, that “years of hits to the head in football or other contact sports lead to a distinct pattern of brain damage that begins with an athlete having trouble focusing and can eventually progress to aggression and dementia.” It is apparently not big hits to the head that bring on the condition, called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, but a diet of small blows.
Talking about guns only keeps us from talking about lifestyles, self-control, and whether the NFL does enough to protect its players. Of course, these topics aren’t nearly as satisfying as wringing one’s hands over those evil guns.