Berry Tramel

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Kansas City Chiefs tragedy: Misguided topic

by Berry Tramel Modified: April 9, 2013 at 11:50 pm •  Published: December 7, 2012

Since the Kansas City Chiefs tragedy last Saturday — linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and killed himself in front of Chief coaches and management — the discussion has somehow centered on gun control. NBC’s Bob Costas used his forum on Sunday Night Football to urge for gun control. Since then, there has been much discourse on the number of professional athletes who own firearms and why.

It’s all terribly interesting. And totally misguided. Gun control is not the hot-button issue in the death of Kasandra Perkins. Domestic violence, which is not limited to or even dominated by gun use, is at the core of this tragedy.

The casket of Kasandra Perkins is loaded into a waiting hearse outside of Ridgeview Family Fellowship Church following a funeral service, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, in Blue Ridge, Texas. Perkins was shot and killed last Saturday by her boyfriend Jovan Belcher, a Kansas City Chiefs football player. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
The casket of Kasandra Perkins is loaded into a waiting hearse outside of Ridgeview Family Fellowship Church following a funeral service, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, in Blue Ridge, Texas. Perkins was shot and killed last Saturday by her boyfriend Jovan Belcher, a Kansas City Chiefs football player. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Domestic violence is rampant in our nation, and the vast majority of incidents do not occur with guns. This was not an isolated incident. This was not a chance encounter when emotions escalated. The Chiefs had helped Belcher and Perkins with counseling. They obviously were having problems. This wasn’t wrong place at the wrong time.

This was a story too often told. A domestic dispute turns violent, whether it’s with fists or guns or any other kind of weapon. And gun control would not have stopped it. Maybe you can argue that Belcher turning murderer would have been more difficult without a gun at his disposal. Maybe so. But I think it’s more likely that gun control would have prevented Belcher’s death, not Perkins’.

I would have liked to hear Costas rail against domestic violence. Teenagers killed in the street over shoes? Or a party goes wild, then goes violent, and someone starts shooting? Fine. That’s a gun issue. But a man and a woman, who together have a child, and argue over whatever, and someone loses their cool. That’s not a gun deal. That’s an anger management issue. That’s a dealing-with-emotions issue.

Making this about guns seems to absolve Belcher of some of the responsibility, which frankly has been a disturbing trend in this story. I heard a caller on ESPN radio Sunday morning, say Chief fans were conflicted on how to feel and that the game should have been postponed, if for no other reason than that. That Chief fans wanted to honor Belcher but also were horrified by what he did.

Honor him? He was a murderer. On Friday, he was a linebacker. On Saturday, he was a murderer, and anyone conflicted by that has problems. And blaming guns is just one more way to divert blame from Jovan Belcher.

I’m actually for cleaning up the streets. Getting as many guns off the street as possible. Sign me up. There are times when guns are the problem.

This wasn’t one of those times. The Kasandra Perkins tragedy occurred because she became involved with a man who did not have the responsibility to deal with his personal problems in any way but violence. Sometimes guns kill people. But Kasandra Perkins was killed by Jovan Belcher. How about we start every discussion with that.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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