Jovan Belcher didn’t kill Kasandra Perkins and himself. The gun did it.
Daily abuse of alcohol and painkillers didn’t contribute to Jovan Belcher’s murderous and suicidal rampage. The gun did it.
The effects of too many blows to the head suffered by his choice of profession didn’t have anything to do with it either. The gun did it.
“Maybe brain damage triggered his violent overreaction to a fight with his girlfriend,” sportswriter Jason Whitlock wrote on Sunday. “What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.” NBC’s Bob Costas then doubled down on this idea during halftime of the Sunday Night Football telecast, quoting two anti-gun paragraphs from Whitlock’s article.
Belcher’s problem was not that he owned a gun. His problem was in the choices he made. He chose for himself a brutal and violent profession that left him racked with pain and possibly with a damaged brain. Rather than find a better way to make a living, he chose to continue to play and try to mask the pain with daily doses of alcohol and drugs, ignoring the effects they were having on his already addled brain.
Then, not appreciating the value of human life — his own and that of the mother of his child — he chose violence as a way out.
By blaming the gun, Whitlock and Costas attempted to absolve Belcher of any responsibility for his actions. They also attempted to deflect attention away from football — which indirectly pays their salary.
Football is a violent sport. Violent people play it. That violence is encouraged by the owners (through the offering of huge contracts), coaches and, most importantly, the fans, who wildly cheer the most violent of impacts. A violent reaction from a football player should come as no surprise. And research is showing that repeated concussions cause unexpected behavioral changes.
But it wasn’t the gun that killed Perkins and Belcher. It was Belcher. Guns are tools and nothing more. Belcher was on a murderous rampage — shooting Perkins nine times, which denotes a violent rage — and he could have (and no doubt would have) just as easily used a knife, a hammer or a screwdriver to kill Perkins. There are dozens of ways he could have offed himself.
To blame the gun is the work of fools or people trying to protect their livelihood, or both.