(WASHINGTON) — Conservatives are taking aim at Sunday Night Football sportscaster Bob Costas for his halftime push for gun control.
In light of news that Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his 22-year-old girlfriend and himself Saturday morning, Costas said the tragedy would be a wake-up call. During halftime Sunday he read from an article by Kansas City sportswriter Jason Whitlock, condemning ownership of handguns.
“If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kassandra Perkins would both be alive today,” Costas said, quoting from the Whitlock article.
Many questioned whether Sunday Night Football was the appropriate venue for such a charged political statement.
“I think Bob Costas owes America an apology. And I think he should be fired from Sunday Night Football,” former South Carolina GOP executive director Todd Kincannon tweeted Monday.
Herman Cain called Costas’ remarks “sanctimonious dreck” on Twitter, linking to an article called “Excuse me, Bob Costas, but you’re an idiot, so shut up.”
“Shame on NBC & Bob Costas for that embarrassing anti-gun screed,” tweeted 2008 Romney staffer Ted Newton.
National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre said he started getting calls with complaints “the minute it happened.”
“People turned on NBC to watch a football game last night,” LaPierre told ABC News. “They didn’t tune in to listen to Bob Costas in a way make excuses for a murderer, whining about his social agenda of gun bans in the middle of a football game, and that’s why he’s getting the reaction that he’s getting.”
A handful of people came out in favor of Costas’ remarks, including the Center for American Progress on its blog.
ThinkProgress blogger Travis Waldron asked if this wasn’t the right time to advocate for gun control, “When, then, is the appropriate time to talk about gun violence?”
Waldron listed a number of other gun violence incidents from the past year. “So if those weren’t the right times, and this isn’t either, when? Which high-profile murder, suicide, or mass killing will be the one that gets us to talk?”
Some Democrats pushed for tighter gun control restrictions in July after James Holmes opened fire with an assault rifle in a Colorado theater, but with elections coming up in the fall, there was no new legislation passed.
President Obama called on Congress to increase support for reducing gun violence in late July. There was also the mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that left six people dead in August, but the White House has not supported any new gun laws.
“He’ll continue to instruct his administration to take action toward common-sense measures that protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens, but make it harder and harder for those who should not have weapons under existing law to obtain them,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said at a press briefing Aug. 6, 2012.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Dakin Andone, CNN
Dylan Byers, CNN
Azadeh Ansari and Angela Dewan, CNN
Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com