Bob Costas told the truth about easy access to guns in the U.S. As he told Bill O’Reilly Wednesday night on "The Factor" there is a need for “more comprehensive and effective controls on the sale of guns.”
And now he is facing a politically correct firing squad intent on making him an example to anyone speaking against the obscenely high daily death toll tied directly to easy access to guns in the USA.
Costas is being targeted by the politically correct crowd that muzzles important debate on issues from gun control, to immigration, to government spending and abortion. These are the same enforcers that got me fired from NPR two years ago for admitting my personal anxiety over seeing people in Muslim garb on airplanes.
Well, they have not shut me up. And I hope Costas keeps talking, too. This country needs an honest debate about gun control.
The body count is too big to ignore. Since the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, there have been over 60 mass shootings. Recently, there was the carnage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. And don’t forget the mass attack at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, or Columbine, or Virginia Tech…
The Center for Disease Control and the University of Chicago calculate that are 87 gun deaths each day and 183 gun-related injuries each day in America. They also estimate that gun violence costs our society a total $100 billion per year -- that's everything from law enforcement costs to emergency room costs which get passed on to every taxpayer.
So my hat is off to Bob Costas as an honest man pointing to the facts and shaming all the “Scaredy-Cats” in the media who don’t want their boss or the advertisers to get a call from the powerful lobbyists opposed to any gun control. Our political leaders are muzzled, too, by the big campaign dollars available from the guns-for-all crowd.
All that silence has left the US with the highest number of gun deaths and the weakest gun regulations of any country in the developed world. There is a reason why more Americans die from guns every year than do Canadians, Brits, Australians, Israelis or anyone else. It not our culture or history – gunfights in the Old West -- that causes 21st century America to endure so much gun violence.
The problem is silence and weak laws.
In Georgia, Virginia, Arizona and Tennessee, the laws allow people to bring guns into bars. Members of the U.S. House and Senate have pushed to allow for guns on Amtrak trains and in our national parks. The Assault Weapons ban was allowed to expire in 2004 after ten years of slowing the sale of the most dangerous automatic weapons.
President Obama promised to fight for a renewal of the ban in his first term and he did not. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave him a grade of “F” for his first term and criticized his lack of leadership.
Whether one supports gun control or opposes it, there can be no denying that the issue should be debated as a matter of public safety. But anti-free speech forces have prevented this debate from happening. And conservatives have been locked into opposing gun control because of concern that the far-left wants to ban all guns. As Bernie Goldberg, guest on "The O’Reilly Factor," said recently people on the right should agree with Costas that something is wrong when there are “more bad things happening with guns than good things.”
That is why Costas’ decision to speak up is so important. He is trying to break the gridlock that has surrounded the gun debate.
This is what I did two years ago by saying that I sometimes feel nervous when I see people in Muslim garb boarding airplanes. I did this to emphasize the point that many Americans have similar feelings since the September 11th terrorist attacks we need to discuss those feelings. My point is that we should not let it our discomfort lead us to stereotype all Muslims or pass discriminatory laws.
Fox News stood by me and defended my right to free speech when NPR and many others would not. I am a very proud employee of Fox.
The bottom line is that news organizations should not be in the business of shutting people up.
Intellectual honesty and consistency dictates that it is also wrong for Costas to be punished for his speaking his mind over the tragedy surrounding football player Jovan Belcher last week. Belcher was the Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker who shot and killed his girlfriend before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide.
On last weekend’s "Sunday Night Football" broadcast, Costas approvingly quoted an op-ed from Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock: “Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.”
I know Costas and admire his work. But all personal affection aside he is to be honored for speaking his mind. I wrote about how difficult it is to have an honest debate about guns and gun control in my book, "Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate." And the need for honest debate on guns remains an American priority. Thank you, Bob.
Juan Williams is a co-host of FNC's "The Five," where he is one of seven rotating Fox personalities.