Commentary: Gun debate misses the point in Belcher case

The Kansas City StarDecember 11, 2012 


Mary Sanchez is a columnist with the Kansas City Star.

MBR — Kansas City Star/MCT

At the risk of sounding like a Kool-Aid-fed daughter of Ted Nugent: It’s not the gun that should be implicated.

Ill-thought-out commentary erupted immediately after yet another murder of a woman at the hands of a man who once professed to love her.

Too much of the surmising after the deaths of Kasandra Perkins and Jovan Belcher cheats domestic violence of its power.

Domestic violence isn’t solely about one out-of-control argument taken to a deadly end because a gun was nearby. Domestic violence entails long-term manipulation, by fear, by force, by limiting a woman’s friends and connections. It’s a push/pull of abuse, followed by apology. Over time, it can control even a woman’s thoughts before they form.

It’s that powerful.

To attach blame on the gun, or the knife or whatever weapon helped cause an injury, unfairly obscures the hold that domestic violence has on America. And this is a death grip.

By basic math and well-researched data, at least another dozen U.S. women have died by similar means since Belcher made his choice to become a double murderer on Saturday; of Perkins and then himself.

Yet some can’t resist using the story to punctuate an anti-gun stance. The deaths are unusual only because they involve a professional athlete, a dramatic display of violence and the Chiefs organization that loved both of the deceased.

The proliferation of guns in the U.S. is a real problem. Relatively easy access to weaponry, lax checks at gun shows, the bravado surrounding “packing heat” are real problems.

But these things did not cause the deaths of two people who should still be parenting their beautiful 3-month-old daughter.

The linebacker did not need a gun to kill his girlfriend. On another day, his hands might have been sufficient.

In the U.S. and in societies backward enough to think that pouring acid on a woman’s face is a proper solution to the fact that she might not love you, the basic formula for domestic violence is this: An emotionally immature man attempts to control another person.

Are some women also immature and just as hateful when arguing? Absolutely. Many female victims wouldn’t be with these men if they didn’t “fit” him emotionally, like a puzzle piece.

But each day men murder their former and current wives, girlfriends, the mothers of their children. It occurs far less often the other way around. These are facts. And they have continued worldwide for centuries.

Pecking at the basic facts of this case to make a pitch for gun control threatens to distort our understanding of domestic violence by pinning blame on one moment, one weapon, and not the nature of the relationship.

There are times for conversations about gun control. This isn’t one of them.

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