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Bob Costas talks guns in interview with Lawrence O'Donnell

December 05, 2012|By Meredith Blake

In his first interview since making controversial remarks about guns during "Sunday Night Football," NBC sportscaster elaborated on his comments in an appearance on MSNBC's "The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell."

Costas defended the on-air editorial that sparked a huge backlash from conservatives and gun owners. He began by saying that guns were not "the only aspect" involved in the death of Jovan Belcher, who took his own life after killing girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, the mother of his 3-month-old daughter.

Costas acknowledged that drugs, alcohol, and the debilitating mental and physical effects of football all could have contributed to Belcher’s breakdown, but explained that due to time limitations he focused on one particular aspect of the tragedy: guns.

From there he made pains to distinguish between the simple existence of guns and what he calls “gun culture."

“I never mentioned the 2nd Amendment, I never used the words 'gun control.' People inferred that. Now, do I believe that we need more comprehensive and more sensible gun-control legislation? Yes I do. That doesn’t mean repeal the 2nd Amendment. That doesn’t mean a prohibition on someone having a gun to protect their home and their family," Costas said.

But he also argued that, even if guns were harder to obtain, the most intractable problem facing the country is pervasive gun culture, which manifests itself in "the Wild West, Dirty Harry mentality" of people who believe that if only everyone carried firearms, mass shooters like James Holmes would be stopped in their tracks.

He also expressed concern over the specific popularity of guns among professional athletes. Recounting a story told to him by former Colts coach Tony Dungy, who was startled to discover that 65 of 80 players at training camp owned firearms, Costas asserted, "You can’t have 65 guys in their 20s and 30s, aggressive young men subject to impulses, without something bad happening."

He continued: "Give me one example of an athlete – I know it’s happened in society – but give me one example of a professional athlete who by virtue of his having a gun, took a dangerous situation and turned it around for the better. I can’t think of a single one. But sadly, I can think of dozens where by virtue of having a gun, a professional athlete wound up in a tragic situation."

Costas concluded by addressing the oft-cited argument that, with or without guns, people with violent urges will find ways to enact them.

"The ready, easy availability of guns makes mayhem easier. Could he have strangled her? Could he have stabbed her? Of course he could have. But the easy availability of guns makes this sort of thing far more likely to occur," he said.

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