Clarifying America's Gun Culture

Katie Pavlich

12/5/2012 12:01:00 AM - Katie Pavlich

Since NBC sportscaster Bob Costas went on his halftime anti-gun rant on Sunday using words written by Fox Sports Columnist Jason Whitlock, we’ve heard a lot from the media and from uniformed commentators about America’s “gun culture.” The fact is, America actually has two gun cultures and it is important to distinguish them from one another.  

The first gun culture is deeply seated in American history and her founding. Founding Fathers like George Washington understood that an armed citizenry would prevent government tyranny, which is why we have the Second Amendment. This is a concept rapper Ice-T understands but sadly doesn’t promote in his songs.

“It’s legal in the United States, it’s part of our constitution. You know, that’s the last defense against tyranny,” Ice-T said in a local television interview last summer.

Each year, more than 75,000 National Rifle Association members meet for the NRA Annual Meetings. The majority of those people carry concealed and every year, everyone who attends that meeting goes home bullet wound-free.

Historically in America we’ve had a deep respect for firearms. The vast majority of people have used them to celebrate American history, for collection, personal protection, hunting and sport. We see American gun culture celebrated each year when dads take their kids elk hunting for the first time. We see it when women head to the range to safely practice shooting their new pink pistols. We see it when a mother shoots an intruder while she is home alone in order to protect her children. We see it practiced when thousands of people sign up for concealed carry permit and hunters’ safety classes each year. Not to mention, the multi-billion-dollar firearms industry employs millions of people and provides the government with billions in tax revenue every year.  

The other gun culture in America can be found in the inner city of Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and others. Ironically, violent gun culture is found within gangs in cities with the strictest gun laws. It is the same culture promoted in Hollywood films made by liberals, glorified by rappers whose music is worshiped in violent gang plagued neighborhoods and disrespectfully joked about at NBA parties.

For example, just recently we saw photos of San Antonio Spurs players Tim Duncan and Tony Parker pointing fake guns at the head of a referee they don’t like.

On Saturday morning, a Halloween picture of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker holding fake guns to the head of a Joey Crawford impersonator went viral, surfacing on Reddit and quickly spreading across the Internet.

In the photo, the San Antonio Spurs teammates are pointing fake guns at the back of the head of a man dressed in a makeshift Crawford referee uniform. A noose hangs above the fake Crawford.

Duncan, dressed like the comic book hero The Punisher, presses his fake gun against Crawford's head while Parker, in a leather jacket and an eyepatch, points his fake gun and mugs for the camera.

Crawford is an NBA referee who has a long past with the San Antonio Spurs. In 2007, he ejected Duncan for laughing while on the bench, then allegedly challenged him to a fight. He was fined $25,000 by the NBA.


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Growing up, I was always taught never to point guns, even fakes ones, at other people. Obviously Duncan and Parker didn’t have the same respect in this situation.

In cities like Chicago, where 10 murders a weekend is average with more than 436 happening in 2012 alone, the breakdown of the family, lack of firearms education and a missing respect for proper firearms use is to blame for a violent gun culture in addition to the individuals committing the crimes.

Many in the media, including Costas and Whitlock, lump everyone who happens to own a gun into the same gun culture category. Why they do this, only they know. But in the case of former NFL player Jovan Belcher shooting the mother of his child nine times and then taking his own life, there has been no discussion from either newsman about the proper use of a firearm. Hint: It’s not to kill one of your girlfriends because she stayed out too late at a concert.

There are approximately 60 million gun owners and 100 million handguns in America. Each day, the vast majority of those gun owners use their guns properly. That is a gun culture to celebrate.