Conservative media figures have offered up several bizarre excuses in order to deflect attention from the role gun violence played in the murder of Kasandra Perkins by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher.
In order to evade the gun issue, conservatives have explained -- in detail -- alternative methods in which Belcher could have committed murder. In addition, they have attacked NBC Sports commentator Bob Costas for even broaching the topic of gun violence, suggesting that it was inappropriate to do so during an NFL broadcast, while others compared it to racially charged commentary from Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus.
National Rifle Association executive vice president and columnist Wayne LaPierre has unveiled a new conspiracy theory, alleging that NBC sportscaster Bob Costas' discussion of the murder-suicide involving NFL player Jovan Belcher was part of a plan by "media conglomerates" to ban guns.
On Sunday Night Football, Costas' quoted approvingly from a FoxSports.com column that noted, "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and [his victim] Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."
Responding on the December 3 edition of NRA News, LaPierre said Costas was promoting "an anti-Second Amendment agenda by somebody in the media with access to these media conglomerates that are more than happy to amplify that all over the country and try to ram it down the throats of average American citizens."
LaPierre and NRA News host Cam Edwards went on to use Costas' comments to promote joining the NRA:
EDWARDS: [Americans] can join the NRA and join a part of the largest organization in America protecting and defending the right to keep and bear arms.
LAPIERRE: Yeah, I mean we are about to be victim of a siege against the Second Amendment in this country going into Obama's second term. I mean it's going to be ugly. It's going to come hard, fast and soon. And were going to have to survive this period of unprecedented danger. And the best way to survive is to make the NRA stronger than ever. Never has membership in NRA been more important than right now.
The NRA often trades in baseless conspiracy theories to promote gun ownership and NRA membership.
In September 2011, LaPierre announced the existence of a "massive Obama conspiracy" to end private firearm ownership in the United States. The basis for LaPierre's claim that Obama would "[e]rase the Second Amendment" in his second term was that Obama did not act on guns during his first term. The NRA also claims that a United Nations treaty with the stated goal of preventing diversion of weapons to human rights abusers will be used as a pretext for gun confiscation in the United States.
Volokh Conspiracy blogger and gun activist David Kopel denied that there is a link between firearm availability and homicide, while distorting statistics to downplay the effectiveness with which other industrialized nations prevent gun violence.
Kopel made his comments on the December 3 edition of CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, during a discussion of the murder-suicide involving NFL player Jovan Belcher. After NBC sportscaster Bob Costas favorably quoted a FoxSports.com column that noted "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and [his victim] Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today," on Sunday Night Football, conservatives in media responded in force with false claims denying the epidemic of gun violence in America.
This pattern continued on Piers Morgan, with Kopel claiming that "there is no relation, scientifically in social science, between the number of guns and the homicide rate." To the contrary, research conducted at the Harvard Injury ControlResearch Center found that "states with higher levels of household gun ownership had higher rates of firearm homicide and overall homicide."
Ted Nugent called for the suspension of the right to vote for "any American who is on welfare" as part of his proposal to reduce federal budget deficits outlined in his latest Washington Times column.
The National Rifle Association board member also called for "slaughtering the three sacred entitlement cows" of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and called for tax increases on "the nearly 50 percent of Americans who pay zero federal income taxes." Nugent wrote that these policies should be instituted "before taxes are raised on the producers, which will further choke the economy."
From Nugent's column:
The three sacred entitlement cows in the room that no politician wants to poke are Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. A blinding statement of the obvious is that we are never going to get our financial house in order until these sacred entitlement cows are not only poked, but slaughtered. Until the slaughter is over, everything else is just taxation window dressing.
In addition to slaughtering the three sacred entitlement cows that consume a vast majority of the federal budget (and I use the term budget generously), let's truly spread the pain around and raise taxes on everyone, including the nearly 50 percent of Americans who pay zero federal income taxes. Those Americans need to have some skin in the game, too. I recommend at least a 5 percent federal income tax bracket for them. The insane free ride needs to end. [...]
Let's also stop the insanity by suspending the right to vote of any American who is on welfare. Once they get off welfare and are self-sustaining, they get their right to vote restored. No American on welfare should have the right to vote for tax increases on those Americans who are working and paying taxes to support them. That's insane. [...]
It shouldn't take a Motown guitar slayer to come up with these common-sense bargaining chips before taxes are raised on the producers, which will further choke the economy. How about it, GOP?
From the December 3 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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From the December 3 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox News host Megyn Kelly and frequent Fox guest Lars Larson attempted to compare Bob Costas' discussion of gun control to Hank Williams Jr. associating Obama with Hitler and Don Imus calling a women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos."
Fox has joined the right-wing media in criticizing NBC's Costas for questioning America's gun culture following the murder-suicide committed by Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher. On the December 3 edition of Fox's America's Newroom, Larson and host Megyn Kelly attempted to make a series of bizarre comparisons between Costas' comments and remarks by former MSNBC host Don Imus and former ESPN personality Hank Williams Jr. that led to their termination with their respective broadcasting outlets. Following comments by Fox News contributor Kristen Powers suggesting that Costas shouldn't be fired for expressing an opinion, as Larson urged, Larson and Kelly responded:
LARSON: When you say you shouldn't be fired for casting an opinion, ask Don Imus about that. He was fired for saying something incredibly stupid and incredibly degrading about young --
KELLY: Well, Hank Williams. Remember Hank Williams made those comments --
LARSON: Or Hank Williams.
KELLY: -- and he got fired from the NFL.
Larson was referring to Imus in 2007 calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos," and Kelly's reference was to Williams comparing President Obama to Hitler just last year during an appearance on Fox & Friends.
In response to Larson and Kelly, Powers threw her hands to her head in disbelief: "I'm sorry, are we really comparing wanting gun laws to saying racist things?"
Rush Limbaugh dismissed the notion that Kasandra Perkins, who was killed in a murder-suicide this weekend by her boyfriend, NFL football player Jovan Belcher, would still be alive today if Belcher hadn't had a gun. In fact, there is a good chance Perkins would still be alive: Data show that guns greatly increase the probability that women who are victims of domestic violence will be killed by their abuser.
According to research by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, "Domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 23 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force." From the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which highlighted a 1992 study on domestic violence assaults:
The study found that in incidences of family and intimate assaults the use of guns was 12 times more likely to result in death than assaults that did not involve a firearm. Compared to knives or other cutting instruments, the involvement of a gun increased the risk of death by 3 times and compared to other weapons and bodily force, risk of death increased 23 times if a gun was involved.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that between 1976 and 2005, one third of female murder victims were killed by an intimate -- a spouse, ex-spouse, or boyfriend -- and more than two-thirds of the spouse and ex-spouse victims were killed by firearms. Girlfriend victims were killed by guns 56 percent of the time.
Similarly, a study by the Violence Policy Center, which concluded that the "most common catalytic component in murder-suicide is the use of a firearm," found that women victims in murder-suicides were killed by another type of weapon or by other means in just 9 percent of cases:
During his radio show on Monday, Limbaugh noted that there are upwards of 600 murder-suicides each year, but discounted the fact that guns play any significant role.
Discussing the Belcher case, Limbaugh criticized NBC sportscaster Bob Costas for bringing up the issue of gun violence during Sunday's night football game. Costas seemed to agree with Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock's comments that "if [Belcher] didn't possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."
LIMBAUGH: No, we don't know that, sadly. I'm sure there are knives in this guy's house. And I'm sure that if he wanted to strangle her, he could have, and he clearly was irrational. The gun and even the availability of it is not why he killed her. And the gun and the availability of it is not why he killed himself. But to say that, ladies and gentlemen, is totally unacceptable.
To say what I just said is to be blind and to ignore the reality staring at us, because if there were no gun, if he couldn'ta gotten the gun then she'd be alive, and he'd be alive, and the baby wouldn't be an orphan and everything would be hunky dory and the Chiefs might have even lost. Everything would have been as it should have been.
Addressing the murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, discredited gun researcher John Lott downplayed the relationship between firearm availability and the incidence of murder in a FoxNews.com column. Lott took issue with NBC sportscaster Bob Costas discussing the tragedy during halftime on Sunday Night Football. Quoting FoxSports.com columnist Jason Whitlock, Costas said, "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."
Lott disputed that the presence of a firearm had anything to do with the murder-suicide, writing, "Even if no weapon existed, the strength differential is so large that Belcher could have easily killed [his girlfriend Kasandra] Perkins in any number of ways."
Lott's attempt to take guns out of the equation was the latest effort by right-wing media to silence the discussion of gun violence in the wake of Saturday's murder-suicide. It is also at odds with research about the relationship between gun availability and gun violence.
As Forbes contributor Rob Waters noted, the presence of a firearm drastically increases the lethality of domestic violence incidents. Using statistics compiled by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Waters wrote that, "If a gun is used during a domestic violence assault, there's a 23-fold increased likelihood that the victim will die. Women who are victims of domestic violence are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm."
In a November 30 article in The Atlantic, national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that it was "too late" to enact gun violence prevention laws, using discredited research from John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime" thesis and debunked claims by criminologist Gary Kleck that defensive gun uses outpace gun crimes.
From the December 3 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Right-wing media, including Fox News and the Drudge Report, are attacking NBC's Bob Costas for daring to question America's "gun culture" in the wake of the tragic murder-suicide committed by a Kansas City Chiefs football player. The Drudge Report characterized Costas' comments as a "gun control rant" while Fox criticized him for "lecturing America on gun control" in the wake of the tragedy.
On December 1, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend at the house they shared before subsequently killing himself in front of his head coach and other members of the Chiefs organization. The following evening, during halftime of NBC's Sunday night football game, Costas endorsed part of a column by sportswriter Jason Whitlock who criticized the gun culture in America.
Costas said: " 'Our current gun culture," Whitlock wrote, 'ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.' " Costas later added: " 'But here,' wrote Jason Whitlock, 'is what I believe: If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.' "
Fox News' Fox & Friends repeatedly questioned whether it was "appropriate" for Costas to be "lecturing America on gun control."
In the wake of previous tragedies, conservative media figures have advocated against gun laws and even denied that gun violence is a serious problem in the United States. Now they've turned their focus to Costas who brought up the subject of America's gun culture in the wake of the latest high-profile example of gun violence.
From the December 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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On last night's edition of Cam & Company on National Rifle Association News, host Cam Edwards and guest Jim Geraghty of the National Review Online baselessly attacked the methodology of a bipartisan poll that showed voters in Virginia, Colorado, and North Carolina trusted President Obama more on gun policy than Mitt Romney.
A poll by Democratic pollster Momentum Analysis and Republican pollster Chesapeake Beach Consulting found that voters in Virginia trusted President Obama more than Mitt Romney on guns by a 9 point margin, and in Colorado and North Carolina by four and one point margins.
Edwards and Geraghty erroneously claimed that the poll could not have produced meaningful results because they said it only sampled 500 voters across three states, and they questioned whether the sample was representative. In fact, the poll's methodology clearly states that 500 voters were sampled in each of three states polled, a sample size commonly used among professional pollsters. Reached for comment, the pollsters indicated that they used "industry accepted" techniques in conducting the poll.