The Last Word | December 04, 2012
>>> in the spotlight tonight, bob costas . sunday night on nbc's football night in america , bob costas addressed the most important football story of the day this way.
>> you want some actual perspective on this? well, a bit of it come from the kansas city base writer jason whitlock with whom i do not always degree but today said it so well that we may as well just quote or paraphrase from the end of his article. our current culture ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy and more convenience store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. handguns do not enhanks our safety. they exacerbate our flaws, temperature us to escalate arguments and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than aroiding it. in the coming days, javon belcher's actions will be analyzed. who knows, but here wrote jason whitlock is what i believe. if javon belcher didn't possess a gunering and kasandra perkins would both be alive today.
>> joining me now, bob costas . bob, thank you for joining us. i'm wondering when you decided you were going to have to say something, obviously you would have to say something about this horrible murder-suicide that occurred, nfl player killing the mother of his child right in front of his child, in front of his own mother, then killing himself. how did you decide how to do that in your show?
>> well, i only had about 90 seconds and half of that or close to half of it was devoted to another observation. and throughout the day on the other network football programs, and then earlier including in the prior segment on our show original football night in america , the why's and where fors had all been covered. i was looking for a different way in. some people may have misunderstood my comments. i took one aspect of it as expressed by a writer whom i quoted verbatim. i took one aspect of it. i do not think that is the only aspect or possible aspect. there is clear lay domestic violence aspect. clearly as i alluded to, the effect of playing football which we know has debilitating effects on mind and body, at least for some. what effect that might have had. what effect drugs and alcohol might have had. and another aspect of that is easy access to guns and a gun culture . and it was that aspect, the gun culture that i focused on. not to the exclusion of the others but just because i didn't have all that much time.
>> i read the full article that you quoted. and i noticed, it seemed to me to my eye were carefully quoting the article and specifically deliberately leaving out pieces of the article that were directly political and directly about gun control . was that a deliberate choice within your show? was it your sense that within your show, better to not go into that zone?
>> it's not about that i'm afraid to go into that zone. if you're going, to you need more time and to be able to get into some nuance. what i was talking about here and i'm sorry if that wasn't clear to everybody, was a gun culter. i never mentioned the second amendment. i never used the words gun control . people inferred that. do i believe we need more comprehensive and more sensible gun control legislation? yes, i do. that doesn't mean repeal the second amendment. that doesn't mean a prohibition on somebody having a gun to protect their home and their family. it means sensible and more comprehensive gun control legislation. even if you had, that you would have the problem of what jason whitlock wrote about and what i agree with. a gun culture in this country. it demonstrates itself in different ways. it demonstrates itself in the wild west , dirty harry mentality of people who actually believe that if a number of people were armed in the theater in aurora, they would have been able to take down this nut job in body armor and military style artillery. in fact almost every policeman in the country would tell that you that would have only increased the tragedy and added to the carnage. it also plays itself out, and jason whitlock had some insight into this. it plays out in the cities where teenage kids are somehow armed to the hilt. and it plays out, in the sports world . where young athletes are disproportionately armed. tony dungey, one of the most respected people in all of sports on our program sunday night said that one year when he coached the colts, he had 80 players before they cut the roster down. 80 players in training camp . he said how many of you guys own a gun? and roughly 65 hands went up. even if all those guns were obtained legally, you can't have 65 guys in their 20s and 30s, aggressive young men, subject to impulses without something bad happening. i posed this question. i didn't have time to pose it sunday night but i'll pose it here. give me one example of an athlete. i know it has happened in society. 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 dozen whereby virtue of having a gun, a professional athlete wound up in a tragic situation.
>> our friend mike put it yesterday at the end of his column, how many home runs could babe ruth hit without a bat? the people who do not september this way of looking at it come ought hard. bill o 'reilly on the case. let's listen to what he had to say.
>> belcher is solely responsible for the horrendous crime which orphaned his baby daughter. he knew. he chose, he chose to inflict lethal damage. no question he was mentally imbalanced. you don't do that if you're in charge of yourself.
>> obviously bell cher is responsible for what he. did i agree with o'reilly to that extent. and bill was fair to me in contrast to some of the other stuff that went on across the street. he was actually fair to me in full context last night. and i appreciate that. no one is saying that belcher is not responsible. in fact, earlier in the day, inthat i was appalled by the way some of this had been covered initially by some of the sports networks where they made it seal like there were two victims. that kasandra perkins was victim one and javon butler was victim two. no. the person who committed suicide first committed a murder and he is responsible for that. however, the ready easy availability of guns, could he have strangled her or stabbed her? of course he could have. but the easy availability of guns makes this sort of thing far more likely to occur. if somebody points out that the country has a problem with nutrition and obesity, that doesn't mean they want to ban fast food . but they are you aware of some of the dangers and hoping to moderate people's behavior. if nothing else, even if some people disagree with me or misinterpret what i said. if it started a conversation on this, then i think that's a good thing.
>> it is my honor that you joined us tonight with your first television interview on this. thank you for joining us.
>> thank you. i appreciate it.
>>> and thursday night at 9:00 p.m . on nbc sports network, costas tonight. a year end special wrap-up.