The murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Javon Belcher and his girlfriend has shined a spotlight on gun ownership by NFL players, and it turns out apparently a lot of them are packing heat — an estimated three-quarters, according to some players.
Though no official statistics for gun ownership in the NFL exist, if the players’ estimates are accurate it means professional football players are far more likely to own guns, comparatively speaking, than the average American. According to National Rifle Association, only 40 to 50 percent of U.S. households have a gun.
The assumed high rate of gun ownership among NFL players is nothing new.
“I think the vast majority of players in the NFL have guns,” former New York Giants tackle Lomas Brown told the New York Times back in 2003. “Just about every guy I played with in the NFL had a gun. Almost every player I knew had one. Guns are rampant in football. You have all these players packing guns wherever they go. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.”
In a USA Today article, former Chief’s running back Thomas Jones explains the why: “Most guys when they first come into the league is when they first start to realize they need protection.”
“People will go to any length to take what you have or harm you in some way just because they don't have what you have,” said Jones, referring to pro players new-found wealth. “If you don't have a firearm to protect you from situations and, God forbid, something happens to you, you wish you would have a firearm.”
The sentiment was shared by Chief’s defensive tackle Shaun Smith.
“Just because we're NFL players, it doesn't make us no different. Some of you guys probably have guns in your houses,” he told a reporter. “If you have daughters, you should. You never know when somebody might try to rob you or do whatever, you know?”
Sportscaster Bob Costas infused the Belcher tragedy
with politics during NBC’s Sunday Night Football half-time show when he criticized the nation’s current “gun culture.”
Costas had paraphrased a strident anti-gun commentary that suggested Belcher would still be alive if he hadn’t owned a gun. Belcher, 25, last week shot to death Kasandra Perkins, 22, the mother of his 3-month-old child, then went to Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium and killed himself in front of his coaches.
Costas later clarified
his position, saying he did not want to see the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms repealed, but maintained the access to guns in the U.S. “is too easy in some cases.” in the U.S.
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