Costas caught all sorts of flack for these comments. Apparently, he believes he was misunderstood and violated his own reporting rules by tackling a complex issue in too small a time frame. I think he's trying to cover his tail end, but I'll let you decide.
As a pastor and gun owner, I pause in wonder sometimes at such commentary. Costas paints some broad generalizations regarding a "gun culture" and some of the things happening in society. I think Costas needs to get out more and realize there is more than one gun culture in this nation. There is a legal gun culture and an illegal one.
Costas tells the story that Tony Dungee once asked his team, "How many of you own a gun?" 65 out of 80 raised their hands. Costas makes two assumptions. He says "Even if they were all obtained legally..." casting doubt that all the gun owners legally possessed their firearms, and then suggests young males subject to impulse shouldn't own guns because they will make violent choices.
Costas makes an incredible leap of logic. First, just think about the numbers of professional athletes. If 85% of said athletes own firearms, the actual number of those committing crimes with said firearms is minuscule--on the magnitude of between 1 and 5 percent. That's very, very small in proportion to the number of athletes who own guns. Secondly, his conclusion that young males who are subject to impulses combined with firearms will lead to tragedy--perhaps this is the case in the illegal gun culture, but in the legal culture, I believe it is less likely to happen. Sure, there are stories of firearms being discharged by kids who fatally kill other kids. There are also stories of parents who leave their firearms within reach of their children, and bad things happen. There's no dismissing such stories. Yet, it is still a fact that more kids drown in personal swimming pools than get killed by guns. No one is going after swimming pools.
And, on a personal note, kids in the legal gun culture tend to be trained and monitored by their parents. I received my first gun when I was seven years old. It was a bb gun. I received it on Christmas with the timely advice, "If I see you point this at a person or an animal or anything you shouldn't point it at, I will break it over your backside." My dad meant what he said, and I followed his advice. Furthermore, my dad taught me the destructive power of guns at an early age. At about the same age, dad took me out one morning with my great grandfather's double barrel shot gun. I'm not talking about the newer models which are light weight and pretty easy to maneuver. I'm talking about the old time guns which are heavy and deliver a punch when you squeeze the trigger. Dad made me shoot the gun. It nearly knocked me down. I learned a lesson about the power of those guns, and to this day, I have a very healthy respect for them. I've hunted since I was 12 or so, and, through my dad, I purchased my first gun when I was 14. I know dozens of people my age whose experience is the same, and there is little evidence that we cannot handle the responsibility of firearms at a young age. The same cannot be said for the illegal gun culture, I believe. A different set of rules apply there, and most of our laws are geared toward that gun culture.
Costas goes after those rules saying that guns are easily purchased and readily available. For who? Not when you purchase them legally. A few months ago, I legally purchased a new hunting rifle. Sure, I was able to walk away with it the same afternoon I purchased it, but I had to go through a lengthy process to buy the gun. I had to fill out an application. I had to go through a criminal background check. I had to fill out all sorts of other information and be subject to all sorts of safety lectures and pamphlets before I could walk out with my purchase. If at any point a red flag would have been raised, I would have been denied. For those purchasing guns legally, this is standard. In the illegal gun culture, it is a different story.
But, that's the key, isn't it. It's the illegal gun culture. There are laws pertaining to it. Laws that aren't always being followed or enforced and sometimes purposely broken (see Operation Fast and Furious). And yet, when some sort of tragic shooting occurs, there is a clamor for more and better gun laws? Seriously? Try enforcing the ones we have now, and give our law enforcement the funding and manpower to do the job!
Some might just be wondering how I square all this gun stuff with my Christian faith. Doesn't violence beget violence? Didn't Jesus say "Turn the other cheek?" Didn't he also say, "Those who live by the sword (gun) will die by the sword (gun)."?
Yes. Jesus said those things, and as I said to a Facebook friend who commented on my status once, I believe guns are not the answer.
But there are folks who do not believe this. There are folks who are willing to use guns to get what they want. There are those who live by the gun. And if law enforcement is not able to control such folks? If such folks are willing to impose violence upon those who try to be non-violent, what happens? The violent folks always win. They always impose their rule over others. History has shown us that time and again.
I do not live by the gun. I try to live by the Word. I try to live in peace. It's what I believe is best for society and for the world. And in a perfect world, all would do that. In a perfect world no one would strike out in violence. In a perfect world, we might not even have guns. In a perfect world we wouldn't have to worry about anyone striking us. In a perfect world, we wouldn't even have to worry about what Jesus said, "If someone strikes you on the cheek, turn to him the other."
But we don't live in a perfect world. We don't live in a world where people will strike you in the cheek with their hands. Sometimes, they choose to strike with firearms, and it's awfully hard to turn the other cheek if you are lying in a pool of your own blood dying. In fact, you can't. You're dead, and those who once counted on you to provide for them, to care for them, to nurture them are left in a heap of trouble.
Therefore, I choose to protect myself as best as possible. I choose to be a gun owner. I choose to use this tool with great respect and great care, and I will teach my children to do the same. I want them to be a part of the legal gun culture--a culture which I believe is compatible with my Christian faith.