Last week, NBC sportscaster Bob Costas unleashed a half-baked half-time rant about gun control. When the comments went viral, Costas embarked on a media tour attempting to back-pedal. A bit. Duplicitously (i.e. “I didn’t say the words ‘gun control’ mated with “we need more comprehensive gun laws”). Costas main fallback position: there’s something wrong with America’s “gun culture.” Members of TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia will have immediately recognized the statement as a perfect example of “I don’t think that means what you think it means.” . . .

Clearly, Costas was using the term “gun culture” as a euphemism for “gangsta” culture. Young urban black and hispanic men who belong to street gangs who carry and use firearms illegally.

Bob Costas, the white multi-millionaire media maven who grew up in solidly middle class 80 percent white Commack New York and now lives in a gated community, a man who’s protected by armed guards, wants laws to fix that.

Not to belabor the point: Bob has about as much experience of inner city America as Dana Frieder has of fried Snickers bars. But Costas knows sports.

Which explains his “here’s why we need gun control” case study: an informal poll of 80 players by Colts coach Tony Dungy, wherein 60 said they owned firearms. Costas believes this “proves” that America’s “gun culture” is out of control.

In other words, Costas can’t make the distinction between hard-working law-abiding [mostly African American] professional athletes exercising their Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms (presumably but not necessarily for self-defense) and gang bangers.

Is it me or does Costas’ comments smack of racism?

Let’s be clear about this. Even without considering the fact that African Americans have suffered miserably from gun control, legislation born in the South to disarm and subjugate blacks, Costas remarks are an affront to African Americans. Lest we forget, gun rights are a civil right for all Americans,

So why single out [mostly black] NFL players? After listening to the gun poll anecdote, Bill O’Reilly puts it to Costas: why do you think these [mostly black] players have guns?

It may be that they feel they need them for protection. They may feel that it’s part of a romanticized culture, there’s an aspect of this a kind of Wild West cowboy Dirty Harry aspect, there’s also an aspect . . . that’s influenced by what we see in the inner cities some of it may be glamorized in gangster rap videos, whatever it may be, it plays itself out in different ways, in different demographics . . .

It’s the word “feel” that most fully reveals Costas’ prejudice. It reflects gun control advocates’ view of people who want to exercise their Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms. They don’t need guns. They “feel” they need guns. They are, in a word, idiots. Gullible idiots.

Costas thinks the entertainment industry’s gun-wielding archetypes are manipulating these [mostly black] gun owners into “feeling” they need a gun. It’s a statement that highlights an enormous disconnect between Costas and liberal-minded gun grabbers and, say, the rest of the country.

Because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the Wild West or Dirty Harry meme. In both of those fictional genres good triumphs over evil. A man stands up for what’s right, protects moral order and dispenses justice at the end of a gun. (If I remember correctly Dirty Harry was a law enforcement officer.)

What rankles Costas and his fellow gun control advocates: the meme violates their belief in the importance of the collective. Society should be in charge of preventing, fighting and punishing law breakers. Not one man with a gun.

Costas doesn’t accept that [mostly black] professional athletes can or (more to the point) should be responsible for their own self-defense. Simply put, [most black] professional athletes can’t be trusted with a gun.

That’s not only well-over-the-borderline-racist. It’s profoundly un-American. At least the America that the founding fathers created, and that millions of gun owning Americans believe in.

Millions of gun owners who have a “real” gun culture. A gun culture based on self-reliance, safety, responsibility and a well-founded suspicion of government. And a deep antipathy against those who would deny them their Constitutionally protected, God-given right to keep and bear arms.

While some—but not all—rap celebrates gun violence and unbridled machismo, it’s important to remember that the music genre is part of a free market of ideas,protected by the U.S. Constitution.

More to the point, if Costas thinks rap is perpetuating a culture of gun violence, railing against it isn’t as effective as allowing a positive gun culture to flourish in our inner cities. In that sense, urban America needs less gun control, not more.

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23 Responses to Random Thoughts About American Gun Culture, Bob Costas, Racism and The Wild West

  1. i love it when anti-gun people bring up the wild west. if only our society was like the wild west: hard working, comparatively minimal crime and murder, and productive.

    • I love the OK corral references too, nobody who brings that one up can tell me how many people were actually killed there (2) or who they were killed by (federal marshals and their deputies)

  2. Robert, good post. I’m not quite sure how far Costas goes in equating gun-culture with specific racial and ethnic groups only and not to (in his mind) include all gun owners and enthusiasts.

  3. Bobby’s Ed. is right one and mirrors what I myself (in my towering wisdom) would have written.
    Black Americans are still on the Plantation but few realize or care that they are nothing but property to the Progresive Powers That Be, bought and paid for by the # of votes each casts.
    Those African Americans that have run-off from Massa, declared thier freedom, thrown down thier chains and cleansed themselves in the sweet waters of Liberty are met with the vile hatred that only the willingly enslaved can inflict upon thier free bretheren, despised, mocked, denigrated they find that the majority of thier culture, even local goverments have turned against them because as every slave holder knows, his biggest threat comes from those whom are no longer slaves.

  4. Costas’ rant definitely smacks of ignorance, and yes, racism. And as others have pointed out before, the problem of violence in America is a multi-dimensional problem that concerns not only race, but poverty and culture. Simply banning guns is ignorant.

    How about a video from a former gangsta rapper who really understands the issue?

    Ice-T on Gun Control
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GwIbyp4xBU

    I love how sarcastically he says, “Well, I’ll give up my gun when everyone else does.”

  5. This is a brilliant idea to connect gun control to racism. We have the facts to support it, and anyone who opposes it will be villainized as a racist. All’s fair in love and war, and if we push it this way we can make it just like the Civil rights movement and unite classes, not just gun owners.

  6. Gosh! All this time I thought African American Professional Athletes felt owning a gun(s) was a good idea since they have concerns about being kidnapped for ransom, or violated in their homes by thieves, or having their families victimized by criminals. So, as rational men they acquired firearms to exercise their natural and Constitutional right to defend themselves and their families and property.
    How stupid of me to miss that they just want to be like Gansta’ Rappers or Cowboys or Dirty Harry because there’s not enough honor and respect in being a Professional Athlete, who represents the most talented and intelligent persons in their field, works his ass off training to build on that talent and skill at his sport, in many cases puts his body and mind on the line playing the sport to entertain the rest of us, does hours of charitable and community service work, in general sets a good example as a person and professional for kids….Nope, that’s not enough….Thanks Bob Costas for setting me straight! I’m a better person now. Or not!

  7. The media loves to say we have a gun problem, when in fact, we have a gang problem (though they will just trot out the stats showing the total murder rate of the nation, lumping the banger thug deaths and suicides with the more pertinent numbers).

    • Gang problem? There is no gang problem. Why that’s just troubled american youth that can be saved by just throwing more buckets of money at poorly run and failing schools and corrupt social programs. It can all be solved by building 60 or so community centers and buying 500 basketballs and teaching all the children under the age of 24, songs about unicorns and rainbows and organizing group hugs…… ok maybe not the hugs.

  8. The last two paragraphs trashed the whole argument. Gang culture may reflect who we are as a nation, but it’s not reflecting anything good.

    Gangbangers are far from self-reliant. These urban thugs — the real ones, not the millionaire athletes or the stupid suburban wannabes — are soaking up welfare money, selling drugs, robbing, murdering, and generally preying on society. Many of them are potentially decent people stuck in a terrible socioeconomic cycle that represents the dark underbelly of capitalism, but there’s no escaping the central fact of their culture: to a gangbanger, self-reliance involves preying on other people.

    That isn’t proof that gun culture is a good thing; it’s proof that there’s a dark side to everything, even self-reliance.

    Maybe Jason Whitlock and Bob Costas weren’t entirely wrong. If we can rationalize the worst failings of our economy and our social system as a good thing simply because they prop up gun culture, maybe we have lost perspective. I’m not hiding my head in the sand pretending violence will just go away if we all hold hands together and get rid of guns, but I’m not pretending guns have some sort of inherent moral value that justifies everything people do with them either.

    We have the undeniable right to keep and use firearms not because they’re good (they’re merely tools, incapable of either good or evil), but because we have an undeniable individual right to protect ourselves and a collective need to protect each other.

  9. People kill people not guns!!!

    Our second amendment right to bear arms is a right of all Americans.

    I was raised shooting pellet guns and taught by my father from a very young age of the inherent danger of guns.

    I compete in sporting clay competitions and there are many different events for different gauges of guns. Just because someone collects guns doesn’t mean their stockpiling guns for the apocalypse.

    Bob Costas should have done better research on the subject than gone off on some emotional rant he has little information about.

    Costas needs to read the Federalist Papers, Bill of Rights and the Constitution as well as pick up a law school book on Constitutional Law before he abuses his podium.

    My sympathy goes out to the families effected by this tragic situation and the attention exploited from it.

    Sincerely,

    Erick Platten

    Texas Trial Lawyer

  10. Don’t know why so many in the media are bringing up the Wild West, the West was truly wild right after the Civil War, than everything started to calm down after the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Back then more people were trying to avoid catching dysentary or typhoid fever or cholera than getting shot.

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