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Bob Costas and Bill O'Reilly agree to disagree on gun control

This past week's "Sunday Night Football" halftime segment turned NBC sports anchor Bob Costas into an accidental champion of gun control, and he was at it again
Bob Costas announcing an NFL game on October 23, 2011 (Photo by Tom Hauck/AP)
Bob Costas announcing an NFL game on October 23, 2011

This past week's "Sunday Night Football" halftime segment turned NBC sports anchor Bob Costas into an accidental champion of gun control, and he was at it again Wednesday, this time on Bill O'Reilly's FOX News show to elaborate on his remarks.

Even though O'Reilly admitted that Costas was "unfairly tarred" by the media and the public for his recitation of FOX Sports columnist Jason Whitlock's op-ed , Costas did not back down from discussing at length the dialogue surrounding the gun culture in America.

The FOX News host extended Tuesday night's conversation with msnbc's Lawrence O'Donnell by asking Bob Costas about his comments regarding the Aurora movie theater shooting tragedy. In his interview, O'Reilly posed a hypothetical situation to Costas, asking if Costas would 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?"

O'Reilly: "Bob Costas and O’Reilly are in the theater. Do you want to hit the floor and hope you don’t get shot? Or do you want to have a gun on you that you could protect yourself with?Costas: I don’t want to have a gun on me, no. In that situation, in the dark, in the confusion, I think it’s highly likely that there would be additional carnage. Bullets would be flying wildly all over the place.O'Reilly: Again, you’re in the theoretical now.Costas: As are you.O'Reilly: You don’t want a gun. I want one.Costas: Alright, fine.O'Reilly: I want to be able to protect myself against that loon with a gun rather than being on the floorCostas: In Colorado, you would have been allowed to but you’re taking me in a direction of a debate that I did not enter into.O'Reilly: 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 against that guy. We just had an honest guy’s disagreement here, that’s all. You don’t want one, I do want it."

Unfortunately, it takes shooting tragedies such as what happened at Columbine High School and the Aurora movie theater for political leaders to issue responses about gun control--but there has been little proposed from the political world--no clearly defined platforms or legislation. Unlike the politicians who have typically shied away from expressing any positions on gun control, Bob Costas expressed that he was happy to continue a suppressed dialogue surrounding gun control and even proposed measures for "more comprehensive and effective controls on the sale of guns."

"Roughly 47% of the guns purchased in this country do not require a background check for purchase. You have that, you’ve talked about a stricter penalties, harsher penalties for criminals. There’s that. 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 and military should have that."

Costas reiterated that he will continue to promote this conversation about the gun culture in the United States in the appropriate forum:

"I am not the least bit afraid to talk about the gun culture to talk about domestic violence. I thought that that was self-evident that this was a domestic violence case, it’s 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 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 gonna have to have a serious discussion within sports, an ongoing discussion, not 5 minutes of faux-tears about it, but a serious discussion of 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 and it would have led to less misunderstanding of where I was coming from. But I was talking about a–a gun culture–I never used the words ‘Second Amendment,’ never used the words ‘gun control.’"

And Costas summed up his final thoughts by telling O'Reilly that he can think of a long list of athletes who owned guns and situations involving domestic violence or aggression never seemed to end well for anyone.

"I cannot think of a single instance involving a professional athlete, where by the 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 packin’."