The U.S. Constitution, Second Amendment states: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
The topic has been debated for years. Why do athletes feel the need to carry guns?
In the past couple weeks, most of us have heard about the Plaxico Burress situation in which he accidentally shot himself leaving a nightclub. Burress became infamous when he caught the game-winning touchdown for the Giants that ended the Patriots’ dream of a perfect season. Though the situation is still under investigation, his fall from grace is undeniable. Most of the general public is wondering, “Why in the world does he need to carry a gun at all?” while it is estimated that as many as 70 percent of players in all leagues carry a firearm.
Being 6 feet, 5 inches, 200 pounds, and a Super Bowl champ would makes Burress stand out in a crowd—which is one of the reasons he had the gun on him in the first place. Another reason was that his home was robbed before this incident. In the weeks before the shooting, Burress was involving himself in community volunteering to teach kids that no matter where you grow up, if you strive, work hard, and focus, you can succeed. Less than a week later, Burress was arrested and never went through the proper procedures of obtaining a license to conceal a weapon.
But why did he feel the need to have that gun on him in the first place?
Joey Porter, who is a close friend of Burress and currently plays on the Miami Dolphins, came to his defense this week. “I would rather get caught with it than without it.” A view shared by many players in all leagues. Porter, who does not have a concealed weapons permit in the State of Florida, admitted to feeling the need to have a gun at his home to protect him and his family and hopes to never have to use it.
Luke Scott is another avid believer in the Second Amendment. Scott currently plays on the Baltimore Orioles. “An athlete gets paid a lot of money,” he said. “And someone who is after that, a thief, a mugger, or someone who steals from people, they are taking a chance with the law that if they get caught, they are going to jail or face some other problem. In my case, you are going to get shot,” Scott said in an interview a couple years back.
Some players believe in the right to bear arms but do not agree with the view of athletes being a target more than anyone else. Karl Malone, a former basketball star, shared his view on why athletes feel the need to carry guns. Malone, being a former spokesmodel for the NRA, said, “Everybody sticks their chests out now when they have a firearm on them. ‘I come up from the hard part of the streets, the mean streets, and I need my gun and all of that?’ Come on, please, enough of that already. We’re tired of that.” For athletes who claim they need a gun for protection, Malone has a suggestion: stop hanging out in places of risk. “3 a.m.? My goodness gracious, what were you doing out at three o’clock in the morning? Who were you with? Where were you at? Do you need a gun to protect you or do you need a babysitter to get you where you need to be all the time so that you don’t get in any trouble?” Malone said.
Other people would disagree. Take the instance of Sean Taylor—the former safety of the Washington Redskins was asleep with his wife in bed when two kids broke into his house in the middle of the night and when confronted by Taylor, shot him dead. Taylor was not out drinking and making bad decisions; he was asleep at his home and was killed. Another instance of players being targeted is the case of former Denver Broncos defensive back Darrent Williams, who was shot and killed outside a nightclub. Also Richard Collier, who was just sitting in his car after a night out with friends, was shot fourteen times, which resulted in him being paralyzed and having his left leg amputated.
So what steps do leagues take with the high profile incidents that have occurred over the past year? The NFL Players Association has beefed up security by offering personal bodyguards, but it doesn’t seem to convince the players around all the leagues. “League officials tell us we need to take measures to protect ourselves. But the NFL says we can’t have guns in the team facility even in the parking lot. Crooks know this. They can just sit back and wait for us to drive off, knowing we won’t have anything in our vehicle from point A to point B,” says Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger now has a bodyguard with him at all times.
There is no cut and dry solution to this problem. Criminals are getting smarter, and athletes are getting richer. Robberies and shootings will always happen. The only thing the league can do is allow players, who abide by the law and obtain a license, to carry a concealed weapon with them. Or provide armed security 24/7—to all players—that is paid for by the league. Not only to protect the players from themselves and possible PR issues, but from others who may harm them, and provide as much necessary training and education to all players who are willing to listen and learn.