A Culture of Death: Guns, Domestic Violence and the Murder of Kasandra Perkins

The tragic murder of Kasandra Perkins at the hands of her boyfriend and professional football player Jovan Belcher was more than preventable, it was the product of a culture that refuses to treat domestic violence as the public health emergency that it is, choosing instead to coddle and fetishize a gun culture that makes such deaths commonplace. Don’t believe me? Consider the facts:

The number one cause of death for African American women like Kasandra Perkins is homicide at the hands of a partner. Family and intimate assaults involving a firearm were 12 times more likely to result in death than non-firearm associated assaults between family and intimates.

More than 12 times as many females were murdered by a male they knew (1,689 victims) than were killed by male strangers (137 victims).
Almost a thousand female victims were wives or intimate acquaintances of their killers.
More female homicides were committed with firearms (52 percent) than with all other weapons combined. Of these, three quarters were committed with handguns.

And while we’ve lost 6,614 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, during the same period of time 11,766 women were killed as the result of domestic violence in this country.

Those are the facts.

Yet despite these facts, here’s the narrative of Perkins’ murder as it unfolded over the weekend and through today. Belcher, who shot the mother of his child in their home, with their daughter present and in the next room was a “happy, proud, father,” a “family guy” who was clearly pushed to the edge by Perkins who one outlet described as a “catalyst” in her own murder.

Then came the explaining. Belcher must have a head injury, a concussion, some kind of diagnosis that would explain why this lovable family man pumped nine gun shots into the body of a woman he claimed to love. I’m not the first to point this out, but funny how that concussion, or whatever injury didn’t result in Belcher shooting and killing his own mother who was in the next room when he murdered Perkins. Funny how Belcher managed to not turn the gun on his coaches or the security guard at the stadium before he killed himself.

It couldn’t be that Belcher was an abuser and easy access to guns is the reason he killed Perkins. Of course not. And when, during halftime of NBC’s Sunday night football game just after the murder-suicide, NFL commentator Bob Costas endorsed part of a column written by sportswriter Jason Whitlock that rightly blamed gun culture for both Perkins’ and Belcher’s deaths, predictably the right went nuts.

Costas said: ” ‘Our current gun culture,” Whitlock wrote, ‘ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.’ ” Costas later added: ” ‘But here,’ wrote Jason Whitlock, ‘is what I believe: If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.’ ”

Media Matters for America has this synopsis:

Fox News’ Fox & Friends repeatedly questioned whether it was “appropriate” for Costas to be “lecturing America on gun control.” Other right-wing sites including the Drudge Report, Fox Nation, and the Washington Free Beacon also attacked Costas, railing against what they described as Costas’ “gun control rant.”

For the right, there is never an “appropriate” time to talk about gun violence or domestic violence, a reality the National Football League must be counting on given that this year alone of the 32 teams in the NFL, 21 have had at least one player who’s been charged with either domestic violence or sexual assault.

Like the NFL, the National Rifle Association has its own agenda its pushing at the expense of women’s lives. “Up until the moment Javon Belcher executed Kasandra Perkins in front of her mother with a handgun, he was precisely the type of ‘law-abiding gun owner’ that the National Rifle Association loves to portray as infallible.” said Ladd Everitt, Director of Communications for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “Had anyone questioned Belcher’s mental state – about which we will certainly learn more in the days to come – the NRA would have been the first to tell us that Belcher’s guns were none of our business and certain to make both him and those around him safer.”

The reality is gun culture depends on, and is built upon, open misogyny. It’s what fueled the immediate victim-blaming of Perkins, the eulogizing of Belcher, and the reason the single-greatest threat young African-American women face is death at the hands of a partner.

Was Perkins’ death preventable? Absolutely. Will this country get serious about preventing another senseless homicide thanks to easy access to guns? That’s a much more difficult question. “Americans frequently struggle with mental health issues and when they do, firearms are readily available” said Everitt. “Only an involuntarily commitment or adjudication by a court as a ‘mental defective’ prohibits one from buying a gun based on mental health background. What percentage of severely mentally ill Americans fall into either of these two narrow categories?”

Clearly not Belcher, which is exactly how the NRA and other domestic violence apologists intend it to be.


Related Stories:

It’s Open Season on Women, Thanks to the NRA

Why Is The NRA Standing In the Way of Helping Suicidal Soldiers?

Gun Violence A Public Health Problem


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Robby K.
Past Member 3 years ago

Karl M & John H- absolutely. Not sure how the NRA has anything to do w/someone going off like that. I guess they were responsible for the stabbing to death of Kitty Genovese in the late 60's?


Amy L.
Amy L3 years ago


Karl Murphy
Karl Murphy3 years ago

Everyone likes to blame the gun instead of the psychopath.
Do we call for beer to be outlawed when a drunk driver kills someone? No, we blame the driver, the person who used the alcohol irresponsibly.
Also notice that no one ever mentions the pharm industry as being a potential cause of these problems.... notice that most of these crazies that go on shooting sprees are taking a bunch of medication that we don't know the long term effects of. When I see commercials for these drugs and they mention increased suicide risk amongst other wild mental side effects, I really have to wonder if these drugs are needed by anyone. Anxiety and depression are very real illnesses, but I think the drugs they are using to treat the issues are doing more harm than good.
Stop blaming guns and start blaming the people that are committing the crimes. If you want to blame someone other than the individual, then start looking at what drugs they are on and who got them taking the drugs in the first place.

Laura Saxon
.3 years ago


John Doe
james rico4 years ago

annmariL just speak for your self just because you do not want to defend your self and become a victim does not mean every one else must be like you. and yes the gun banners have put a label on certain rifles that are still civilian copys of military rifes does not mean they should be banned. lots of people use them for target shooting and possible self defence in areas where gangs are active so don/t talk with a bias and with something you know little of. the most corrupt states ban guns the most that says it all

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin4 years ago

John D.: When you learn to spell, I might be able to make something out of your rants.
The rest of you gun crazies: There are more people shot by mistake than by criminal acts. Fathers shoot their kids when they arrive home late, children get their hands on loades guns at home and kills their siblings, people are careless handling their weapons ) Like the father that "mistakenly) killed his son in the car just a couple of weeks ago.
NRA and their friends fight with any means possible (blatant lies and stupid analogies) to keep arming the public. Having checks done of gun buyers is good, but what about all these people that haven't committed a crime yet, but will? It's too easy to get your hands on a firearm. Why on Earth is it a right to buy assault rifles? You can't hunt with them and what sport is it to hit a target at a gun range with a weapon like that? They are made for one thing only and that is to kill. Noone in their right mind would buy such a weapon and use for self defence. Stop defending this crazy mentality of the Wild West and misinterpret the Second Amendment!

John Doe
james rico4 years ago

god bless the NRA. its the common person that needs them more than ever the wealthy will have their body guards gated villages. big fancy cars with tinted windows they are sheltered from the real world they are not likely to be exsposed to criminals. or unstable persons they can even get a gun no matter where with their high paid lawyers. all the crazy shootershad one thing in common they were on powerfull pharacuical drugs give to the doctors. then then blame the guns its all in the plan for the invisible goverment to have complete control of the people. they bring in GMO foods give harmfull drugs that shorten life it all goes together.and the stupid average joe six pack can not see this.most of the same crooked politicians that want to restrict and ban guns are the same crooks that vote to ban supplements hide labeling of GMO/s and force vaccinations on people guys like chuck shumer bob menendez lautenberg. the most corrupt states like NJ NY ILL MASS are first to ban guns. you put Low income people in the getto vaccinate them sell them LOts of alcohol and drugs and then you wonder why they shoot each other up all the while disarming the law abideing person seems like something they do in NJ and NY

Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Frances C.
Frances C.4 years ago

I have three words for the NRA. Go to Hell!

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

This was not the gun's fault. It happened because these guys have come up with everyone has made them feel as though they are entitled and can do anything they want.