The sports world was rocked this weekend when Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend Saturday morning, then proceeded to fatally shoot himself in the head at the Chiefs’ practice facility. Though no motive has been declared, it is safe to assume that Belcher was a very troubled man (if even during the short time frame of the incident). Prompted by this event, NBC anchor Bob Costas used his “Sunday Night Football” platform last night to give a speech on gun control at halftime of the Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles game. This led to immediate reaction from fans and news outlets (search “#Costas” on Twitter for reference).
Though much of the fallout was politically- and emotionally-charged, the fundamental concern regarding Costas’s advocacy of gun control appeared to be his timing. Many asked, “Is this the right time to pontificate about your personal beliefs on gun control?” Still others argued that such a time was the perfect opportunity to speak on this matter.
Regardless of whether or not Costas was “right” or “wrong” to voice his opinion in that venue (and a consensus is not on the horizon, of course), there are a two general issues with his thesis.
1. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Overused phrase? Yes. True? Yep. Costas’s argument that Belcher and his girlfriend “would still be alive” if he was unable to obtain a gun is a stretch. Sure, it could theoretically be true if Belcher only wanted to use a gun, but that’s unlikely. Over recent decades, Chicago learned that banning guns did not lower homicide rates. In fact, they increased. And John Lott argues that this isn’t isolated to Chicago or any other specific area. Additionally, anyone who has been a parent or in some sort of ministry to teenagers knows that making a child come home by 10 p.m. every night does not guarantee his or her chastity.
Abortion restrictions, for example, statistically show potential in saving lives while homicides and suicides play out differently. Obama’s endorsements led to 300,000 more abortions through Planned Parenthood. That’s raw data in support of such restrictions, so I don’t want to demonize law. However, homicide and suicides are conducted through a myriad of means. Guns are one of many weapons of death. Though stats may vary in different contexts, the statistics – at the very least – call for much more debate than was allowed in last night’s broadcast. Costas might have been able to save face if he used more conditional language like “might” or “who knows if…?” Instead, he matter-of-factly pounded the gong.
2. Only God changes hearts. It cannot be stated enough that laws do not transform sinful hearts. The void that was clearly in Belcher’s heart would not be filled by tighter regulations, but by the life-transforming power of the gospel. It must be said that we should always fight to legislate godly virtues in our society, but we must also remember that Jesus Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension bring the only true hope to mankind (John 14:6-7; 1 Cor. 12:12-16). Christians have the propensity to either hate law and government or idolize it; instead, let us support legislation where it helps society but let nothing replace the foundational human need for the gospel.
Jovan Belcher didn’t need a law telling him not to own a gun (assuming that he did, in fact, own it legally); he needed to see that God was and is the only solution to whatever deep anguish he was experiencing.
This post was the topic of discussion when I co-hosted “For Christ and Culture” on 90.9 KCBI in Dallas. LISTEN HERE