Sports broadcaster Bob Costas used his platform at NBC’s Sunday Night Football to blame guns for Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher’s murder of his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins and Belcher’s subsequent suicide. Costas quoted extensively from a column written by Fox News sportswriter Jason Whitlock, in which Whitlock concludes, without equivocation:
What I believe is, if he [Belcher] didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.
Never mind the fact that their relationship was so troubled that the KC Chiefs team management was providing counseling to them. And never mind the fact that Belcher had a history of violence against women dating back to his college years at the University of Maine, where police were summoned three times due to his behavior. And never mind the fact that, while he earned a degree there, ironically enough, in child development and family relationships, he also joined a group called Male Athletes Against Violence (“MAAV”). USA Today reports:
As part of MAAV, Belcher would have signed a pledge card, vowing never to commit violence against women and to stand up against those who did. The pledge, among other things, required him to “look honestly at my actions in regards to violence and make changes, if necessary.”
And also never mind the fact that Belcher had been drinking heavily the night before the shooting and spent part of that night with another woman.
What these accounts make plain is that Belcher’s personal history was troubled and complicated. He was kind and gentle, by the many accounts linked above, but he also had a violent side that emerged from time to time.
But no, let’s ignore all that and instead just blame guns.
Economist and author John Lott, Jr., was a guest on Mark Levin’s radio show Monday night, discussing his book, “More Guns, Less Crime.” Lott’s research and analysis on crime rates in states with and without stringent gun controls is epic. It demonstrates indisputably that crime decreases as gun possession – or the legal rights to it – increase. Heartland is a friend of Lott and interviewed him two years ago for this video.
In 1983, Chicago enacted an ordinance banning gun possession in the city. The constitutionality of this ordinance was challenged in court. In 2008, the Supreme Court invalidated that ordinance.
Heartland submitted an amicus brief in that case. We were motivated by the fact that for many years prior to the litigation, it was widely trumpeted that gun murder rates in Chicago declined after Chicago banned gun possession. But this is true if only raw numbers are considered. What matters is the number of such crimes as a percentage of the city’s population. Analyzed with U.S. Census data and handgun murder data from the Chicago Police Department, Heartland submitted research in its amicus brief showing that:
the percentage of murders committed with handguns has skyrocketed since 1982 and handgun murder rates per 100,000 population more than doubled in the 1990s over 1982 levels. In 2008, these rates were up more than 60% over 1983.
This research was important, because no one before had ever done it. The Supreme Court quoted and cited Heartland’s research in its opinion invalidating the Chicago ordinance: “Chicago Police Department statistics, we are told, reveal that the City’s handgun murder rate has actually increased since the ban was enacted.”
Let’s put into perspective the reason why gun possession deters crime.
Many years ago, I rented a cottage on a lake in Wisconsin as a getaway from Chicago. The cottage was about 10 miles from the nearest town and five miles away from the nearest highway and didn’t really have an address.
My lease began on November 1. I arrived that day to spend a week relaxing, I thought. I began unloading the trunk of my car on the road above the cottage. The area was entirely deserted because my neighbors were summer people. But a lone tall and strong man approached me, walking down the road. “So you’re the lady lawyer from Chicago,” he said. “Up here all alone, are you?” He kept repeating the last part: “Up here all alone, are you?” “Up here all alone, are you?”
I was, of course, totally freaking out. As it turned out, he had dementia and was harmless. But at that moment, I didn’t know that. Then, two things dawned on me. First, if I called 911 because someone was breaking into my house, the police would never be able to find me in time. Second, I was indeed alone and I needed a gun, just in case.
And so I got one. So should we all.