Bob Costas explains 'gun culture' comments

Sportscaster gets into fiery debate with O'Reilly over gun control


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 5, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Watch "The O'Reilly Factor" weeknights at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET!

BILL O'REILLY: Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight.

No "Talking Points Memo" this evening because we have two very important interviews to conduct here. In just a few moments Senator Marco Rubio in his first post election chat and boy do I have some questions for him.

But first the lead story, Bob Costas as we reported last night the NBC sportscaster has created a storm of confusion.

Last Sunday night during a National Football game, he delivered a commentary at halftime condemning what he calls the gun culture in America. Now some folks got angry because they felt Costas was attacking the Second Amendment. Mr. Costas denies that and he joins us now.


O'REILLY: So first up, how do you feel about the right to bear arms?

COSTAS: Obviously, Americans have a right to bear arms. I'm not looking to repeal the Second Amendment. I haven't immersed myself in the issue throughout my life. I'm aware of it, as many Americans are. I didn't call for any specific prohibition on guns. I never used the words "gun control".

I quoted from a column by Jason Whitlock, who was in Kansas City for a long time, now is on the Fox Sports Web site, in which he mentioned, I think credibly, a gun culture in this country.

Now, it plays itself out in many ways, but it's a mentality about and toward guns that almost always leads to tragedy rather than safety.

O'REILLY: All right. And we'll get to that in a moment. But I think I want to clear this gun control thing up, because that's -- that's why you got in trouble, because some people felt --


O'REILLY: And this is a very emotional issue --


COSTAS: Of course it is.

O'REILLY: -- and I'm sure you know that.

COSTAS: of course it is.

O'REILLY: And the second thing you he said is Mr. Whitlock is really, really far out there.

COSTAS: Well, I -- I am not agreeing with --


O'REILLY: I know that.

COSTAS: -- and I even said --


O'REILLY: But when you associate --


COSTAS: -- Mr. Whitlock, with whom --

O'REILLY: -- when you associate yourself with a guy like -- who's that far out there --

COSTAS: I was unaware of the remarks he made about the NRA and the KKK.


COSTAS: I'm not even sure of the time line --

O'REILLY: All right, yes.


COSTAS: -- and whether they --

O'REILLY: And, you know --

COSTAS: -- post-dated or pre-dated. But in any case, I was unaware of them. And obviously, I would disagree with that 100 percent.

O'REILLY: Not scolding you, just --

COSTAS: I get it.

O'REILLY: -- you know, ok.

COSTAS: I get it.


O'REILLY: I'm not scolding, I was trying to --.

COSTAS: That's a mild scolding compared what I've --

O'REILLY: Yes, I mean -- ok.

COSTAS: -- received over the last 72 hours.

O'REILLY: As long as you call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree, you're ok here.

COSTAS: Yes. Merry Christmas to you, too, Bill.

O'REILLY: All right. There you go.

So let's advance the story a little bit. Gun control in America is an emotional issue because it is clear that the founding fathers gave the right to bear arms for two reasons -- two reasons. Number one, because they felt that the government might devolve into tyranny and the second thing was the -- the founding fathers knew that they had to settle this giant country and there weren't going to be laws out in the West and people had to have guns to protect themselves from bears and -- and native Americans that didn't like them --


COSTAS: Yes. Yes.

O'REILLY: -- coming on their property. So there's a history here --


O'REILLY: -- all right? And most people don't even understand that history.

So Americans grow up with the right to protect themselves -- against the government and against bad people. Then you enter into the modern age, where you have a debate about well, what's the government's responsibility here, because these are lethal weapons?

And that's where you come in, right? So you're saying that you want a more stringent program by the authorities to make it harder to get guns --

COSTAS: It sounds like you're -- you're -- you are saying I'm saying that. Now if you --


O'REILLY: You're not saying that?


COSTAS: -- if you -- if you were to ask me --

O'REILLY: You want -- you don't want to make --


COSTAS: -- if you were to ask me --


O'REILLY: -- it harder to get guns?

COSTAS: -- I believe that there should be more comprehensive and effective controls on the sale of guns.

O'REILLY: So what does that mean?

COSTAS: Well, what -- that's -- but that is not where I was coming from --


O'REILLY: I know. But what does that mean, though? I'm curious.


COSTAS: -- on Sunday night.

O'REILLY: I'm curious. What -- how -- how do you do that?

COSTAS: Roughly 40 percent of the guns purchased in this country do not require a background check for purchase.

O'REILLY: Ok. So you want a background check, right?

COSTAS: You -- you have that. You've talked about stricter penalties, harsher penalties for those --

O'REILLY: For criminals.

COSTAS: Exactly.

O'REILLY: Right.

COSTAS: There is -- there is that. There -- there ought to be training programs for those who purchase guns. I don't see any reason why someone should be able to purchase military-style artillery and body armor and automatic weapons. Only the police or the military should have that --


O'REILLY: All right, all of those are reasonable positions --


COSTAS: That's all fine.

O'REILLY: -- even if you disagree.

COSTAS: And none -- none of that impinges on someone's Second Amendment rights or the right to protect their home and their family.

O'REILLY: Ok. And -- you know what? I agree with most of that --



O'REILLY: But here is where you made your mistake. Are you ready for your mistake, Costas?

COSTAS: Yes, I'd like to hear it.

O'REILLY: All right, you're going to.

Roll the tape.


COSTAS: It demonstrates itself in the Wild West/Dirty Harry mentality of people who actually believe that if a number of people were armed in the theater in Aurora, they would have been able to take down this nut job in body armor and military style artillery, when, in fact, almost every policeman in the country would tell you that that would have only increased the tragedy and added to the carnage.


COSTAS: Yes, sir.

O'REILLY: No. No. Now here's the deal.

COSTAS: What do you mean no?

O'REILLY: I'll tell you what I mean. You and I are in a theater --


O'REILLY: Ok, in Colorado.


O'REILLY: We're watching the Batman movie.


O'REILLY: The nut comes in through the back door --


O'REILLY: -- with his guns and he opens fire.

COSTAS: And his body armor.

O'REILLY: His body armor, whatever else he had and he opens fire.

So you and I are looking now -- and where --


COSTAS: And this gun that can fire off hundreds of rounds --

O'REILLY: Right. And we're saying to ourselves, gee, I really don't want to get killed here. And you're seeing other people go down.

Answer my question now. It's a very simple -- as you know, I'm a simple man. Would you rather have the choice of ducking down on the floor or having a handgun on you to pull out and defend yourself against the man?

COSTAS: The hypothetical that you present --

O'REILLY: Thank you.

COSTAS: -- presupposes that, in most cases, someone dressed like the joker is not going to show up with a bazooka.


O'REILLY: Of course not --

COSTAS: In most cases --


O'REILLY: -- but the --

COSTAS: -- you're going to have many --

O'REILLY: -- but in -- in Texas and other states --

COSTAS: -- you're going to have many armed people, all right. And Colorado happens to be a right to carry state.

O'REILLY: Right.

COSTAS: But you're going to have many armed people who would just be sitting there watching the movie. I would tell -- I would suggest that if that were the case --


COSTAS: -- it's far more likely than somebody playing Dirty Harry and taking this guy down that, over the course of time, there would be a dispute about somebody stepping on someone's foot on the line --


O'REILLY: But you're evading --

COSTAS: -- for popcorn --


O'REILLY: -- you're evading my question and going --

COSTAS: -- and -- and that dispute would escalate because somebody has a gun.

O'REILLY: You're evading my question. Bob Costas and O'Reilly are in the theater.


O'REILLY: Do you want to hit the floor and hope you don't get shot or do you want to have a gun on that you could protect yourself with?

COSTAS: I don't want -- I don't want to have a gun on me, no. And in that --


COSTAS: -- in that situation --


COSTAS: -- in that situation, in the dark, in the confusion --

O'REILLY: I respect that.

COSTAS: -- I think it was -- it's highly more likely that there would be additional carnage. Bullets would be flying wildly all over the place.

O'REILLY: But, again, you're into the theoretical now. You don't --


COSTAS: As are you.

O'REILLY: No, I'm not. You don't want a gun, I want one.

COSTAS: All right, fine.

O'REILLY: Ok. I want to be able to protect myself against that loon with a gun --


COSTAS: And --

O'REILLY: -- rather than being on the floor.

COSTAS: Now --


O'REILLY: No, wait -- stop, stop --

COSTAS: -- in Colorado --

O'REILLY: -- stop, stop, stop --

COSTAS: -- you would have been allowed to.

O'REILLY: Right.

COSTAS: -- you're taking -- you're taking me in a direction of a debate that I did not enter into.

O'REILLY: No, no, no. You set the premise. I didn't set the premise. You said the gun culture and that you objected to this kind of thinking.

I have this kind of thinking and millions of people have it. I want to be able to protect myself --


COSTAS: All right --

O'REILLY: -- against that guy. We just have an honest gentleman's disagreement here, that's all. You don't want the --


COSTAS: What -- what I --

O'REILLY: -- you don't want it, I do want it.

COSTAS: What I spoke about in quoting Jason Whitlock was a mentality. There is a gun culture in this country.


O'REILLY: Well, let's get to that.

COSTAS: Tony -- Tony Dungy, a highly respected figure, said that when he coached the Colts, some 80 players before they cut the roster down, show up in training camp. And he asked them, how many of you own guns?

About 60 of the 80 raised their hands.

O'REILLY: Why do they have the guns?

COSTAS: All right, they -- they may feel that they need it for protection.


O'REILLY: But why --

COSTAS: they make --

O'REILLY: -- do you know why they have them?

COSTAS: -- they --

O'REILLY: I don't know.

COSTAS: -- they may -- they may feel that it's part of a romanticized culture. There's -- there's a -- there's an aspect of this, a kind of Wild West cowboy Dirty Harry aspect. There's also an aspect of --


O'REILLY: So they're macho men --

COSTAS: -- that's influenced --

O'REILLY: -- and they've got to have a gun.

COSTAS: -- that's influenced by some of what we see in the inner cities or some of what may be glamourized in -- in gangster rap videos. Whatever it may be, there is -- it plays itself out in different ways, in different demographics --


O'REILLY: All right --


COSTAS: And I would suggest to you that even if one has the right to have the gun, if you've got this many guns out there, far more often, bad things happen, including unintentional things, than things where the presence of a gun diminishes or averts --


O'REILLY: Ok. But I want to get --

COSTAS: -- danger.

O'REILLY: -- into the gun culture here.

So it's cool in the NFL and in the NBA and these things for some athletes to carry a gun? Would you say that's true?

COSTAS: All I can tell you is since I made these comments, I have heard from players, past and present; from coaches; from executives in the NFL --

O'REILLY: Right.

COSTAS: -- saying they are -- they have long been alarmed and concerned by the number of players who cavalierly believe that you have to have a gun.

We now see, in text messages between Jovan Belcher and a friend, he's complaining that Kasandra Perkins may have had a boyfriend and he may have had a girlfriend on the side, whatever. We haven't sorted this out yet.

But he's complaining about it. And his buddy says, you'd better get yourself a gun. And he says, "I have eight of them." Now, the buddy didn't say you'd better get a samurai sword. You'd better get a lead pipe like Professor Plum in the conservatory. He said get a gun.

I am not the least bit afraid to talk about the gun culture, to talk about domestic violence. I thought it was self-evident that this was a domestic violence case, self-evident to talk about the effects that football and the culture of football have on many of the people who play it. I've done it before and I'll do it again. I will look for places where there's more time to do it.

In retrospect, I -- I don't back up on anything I said. But I think it might have been more effective if I said, look, if we're looking for perspective on this, we're going to have to have a serious discussion within sports, an ongoing discussion, not five minutes of -- of faux tears about it, but a serious discussion about domestic violence, about the culture of the game itself, about the easy access to guns, about steroid drugs and alcohol. And in the future, we will soon do that. I think that would have been more effective --



COSTAS: -- and would have led to --


O'REILLY: Yes, I mean --

COSTAS: -- less misunderstanding --

O'REILLY: -- you don't want --

COSTAS: -- of where I was coming from.

But I was talking about a drug -- a -- a gun culture. I never used the word "Second Amendment". Never used the words "Gun Control":


O'REILLY: Well, and I think you were unfairly tarred there.

COSTAS: I cannot think of a single instance involving a professional athlete whereby that athlete having a gun averted or diminished a dangerous situation. But I can give you a long list of tragedies that came about because guys were packing.

O'REILLY: All right. Thanks for coming in here, Costas. It's good to see you, man.

COSTAS: Thank you, O'Reilly.

O'REILLY: All right.

COSTAS: Merry Christmas.

O'REILLY: Any time you get in trouble, you come right here. We'll get you out of it.

COSTAS: Yes. I know you have security here.

O'REILLY: Lots of it.


Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2012 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.