Bob Costas' commentary/lecture/rant on gun control to the 18 million viewers of Sunday Night Football's halftime show brought predictable outrage from the National Rifle Association and friends, but it couldn't have been more timely. And not just because of the murder-suicide committed by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher that prompted it.

Gun sales are up. Wildly up. The day after Thanksgiving, according to the California Department of Justice, sales of handguns were 59 percent higher than Black Friday last year. (Memo: If those Glocks are going under Christmas trees, put the ammo somewhere the kids can't find it.)

Costas is taking shots from the gun-rights crowd for saying, "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kassandra Perkins would both be alive today." Clearly under pressure since his venting, Costas clarified his position on guns Tuesday, but he didn't back down. He said "access to guns is too easy in some cases."

Jim Pruett, owner of Pruett's Guns and Ammo in Houston, told reporters last week that "(President) Obama is the greatest gun salesman of all time." Obama must accomplish this purely by being a black president: He has done next to nothing to push gun-control legislation, and it has never been a campaign issue for him.

The spate of shooting sprees in the past year and the mounting number of handgun deaths in the United States demand our attention as a public safety issue. Costas told the truth, and it ought to prompt a broader public discussion of how to reduce gun violence.