By now you’ve probably heard about Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher murdering his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra Michelle Perkins, before taking his own life. And if you’re like me you shook your head and commented on how completely tragic the whole event is. Another black woman killed at the hands of her lover, another child turned into an orphan, another man’s life thrown away, and everyone else left to wonder why.
While many people struggle to sort out the details of Belcher and Perkins’ relationship, others are engaging in another discussion, opening a very contentious debate—yet again brought on by tragedy—about when we’re going to get serious about guns.
After Columbine, after VCU, after Tucson, and after Aurora, we all wondered if this time our nation would finally talk about our sick addiction to guns. But it didn’t happen.
Even while inner cities like Chicago became just as dangerous as Middle Eastern war zones, and black and brown bodies stained the city streets, folks like me wondered if the chaotic nature of mass shootings or the amazingly tragic death of a kid walking home from the store would finally, finally jolt us into that much-needed conversation.
But then pro footballer Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend, the mother of his three-month-old child, and himself and we are back here again, being bombarded by the pro-gun lobby who freak out when anyone dares to question the necessity of owning a gun.
I’ll admit, I don’t understand why Americans need to have guns.
In a country that purports itself to be a shining example for the entire world, I don’t see why citizens cling to their guns as if they truly make us safer; they don’t.
But America is nostalgic. We love to wax poetic about revolting against the British, our well organized militias, the romanticized Wild West, and the importance of the Second Amendment.
While some Americans foolishly believe their guns are the only thing standing between them and the government, the truth is it isn’t. As sports columnist Jason Whitlock so eloquently wrote over the weekend, your firearms are too short to box with Uncle Sam.
Writing about the Chiefs decision to play in Sunday’s game, just a day after Belcher shot himself at the team’s facility, Whitlock surmised:
We’ve come to accept our insanity. We’d prefer to avoid seriously reflecting upon the absurdity of the prevailing notion that the second amendment somehow enhances our liberty rather than threatens it.
How many young people have to die senselessly? How many lives have to be ruined before we realize the right to bear arms doesn’t protect us from a government equipped with stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons?
Our current gun culture simply 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.
He’s right. Our guns do not protect us, but rather heighten the chance that something can go horribly wrong.Whereas arguments used to end with hurt feelings, or at most, a brused eye, these days guns can make the smallest arguments deadly.
In one of the most poignant articles written about this situation, New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica argues “guns make heinous crimes easier.”
Maybe we will never find out what brought him to this moment, rage or jealousy or the need to obsessively control Kasandra Michelle Perkins, his girlfriend. Maybe it will turn out to be a brain injury nobody knew about, or something else that caused this madness.
But we do know this: Murdering this young woman, 22, and then killing himself in front of his coach and his general manager was made easy by a gun, because a gun always makes it easier.
And there it is.
Whether you believe in carrying a gun or not, it’s hard to argue that had Jovan Belcher, and George Zimmerman, and the Columbine shooters, and Jared Loughner, and so many kids in Chicago not had a gun, Kasandra Michelle Perkins and other victims like her would be at home today.