An unspeakable tragedy unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut Friday, the latest in a series of tragic stories focusing attention on the infamous United States Constitution second amendment, the right for Americans to bear arms.
Two weeks ago completely unrelated but now sadly linked, Bob Costas raised the issue of gun control on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Costas vilified by right to bear arms advocates (the gun lobby) slammed Costas for using Sunday Night Football as a platform to raise the issue of gun control in America.
In the last two weeks an active NFL player murdered a 22-year old woman, a shooting in a Portland, Oregon shopping mall where three people died including the man who brought a gun into a shopping mall and Friday 20 children had their lives taken away from them. In each case guns used by people murdered innocence, tragedies directly linked by the lack of gun control in the United States of America. Guns in America, Gun control in America, now are the time to have a debate!
A recent USA Today cover story reported 75% of current National Football League players own guns. Guns seemingly have been a part of the NFL culture for a very long time.
"Most guys when they first come into the league is when they first start to realize they need protection," former NFL running back Thomas Jones told the USA Today. "Because money brings a lot of positive things. But most of the time, it brings more negative things. People don't like you for what you have, for who you are. They don't like you for what you represent. And 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. 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."
Jones played with Belcher at the end of Jones career with the Kansas City Chiefs, serving as a big brother to Belcher. Belcher owned eight guns at the time of his murder/suicide.
Tony Dungy former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy speaking on NBC’s Sunday Night Football said that while he was the Colts head coach at the start of his team’s training camp one year he asked the 80 assembled players how many owned guns. Much to Dungy’s surprise more than 60 (75%) indicated they owned guns.
"I was always shocked at the number of guys who raised their hand. ... That was kind of eye-opening to me. ... (But) it's just a fact of life. These guys had them. ... I think so many of these young guys have been around guns and have seen guns, and they just feel that's part of the landscape for them growing up." Dungy told USA Today.
Athletes collect guns. A great deal of focus has revolved around NFL players and guns as a direct result of Jovan Belcher – regardless guns and NFL players is an issue.
"I'm not ... trying to tell guys in the league they need to purchase firearms," Jones said in the USA Today report. "I'm just saying to be realistic about our lifestyle."
The gun lobby that were so critical of Costas two short weeks have been silent following the horror guns inflicted on innocent children Friday.
Wayne LaPierre, chief executive officer for the NRA, told the USA Today that as far as he is concerned you can forget about any notion that guns are to blame for the Belcher tragedy, or that NFL players are in some way different when it comes to Americans and their right to own guns.
"It's not a culture of athletes," he said. "It is particular behavior by particular individuals that is no different from the rest of society. We've got to stop making excuses. A murderer is a murderer."
LaPierre can believe whatever he chooses but guns and the right to own guns link together Jovan Belcher, Jacob Tyler Roberts (Portland Mall shooter) and Adam Lanza; three men all in their 20’s who in the last two weeks have through their actions fostered an opportunity for Americans to debate the second amendment.
Belcher owned eight guns, Adam Lanza who murdered his mother Nancy Lanza, used three of the guns his mother collected to inflict unbearable pain. There are two issues that need to be discussed – the right to bear arms and protect yourself and the right to purchase an arsenal. Nancy Lanza owned an assault rifle, why and how would a 52-year old woman want to own an assault rifle?
James Harrison a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers not only believes in collecting guns, not only believes in the right to bear arms but believes that guns are not the issue.
"It has nothing to do with the guns," Harrison told the USA Today. "Somebody goes out and kills somebody with a knife; you going to blame the knife? It's the person who did it who's responsible."
Friday the same day Adam Lanza used a gun to murder 20 innocent children in the United States of America, twenty-two primary school children were wounded in a knife attack Friday in central China, according to CNN. What took place in China is terrible, there is a world of difference between what took place in China and in the United States; Lanza had a gun, and the Chinese maniac had a knife. Harrison can say whatever he wants too about guns and people, same day, similar crimes, and a very different end result.
"You have young people with a lot of money, and there may be a quickness in a decision to buy a gun," Dan Gross, president of the Brady Center told the USA Today. "There's a kind of social norm that exists in certain professional sports around ownership of a gun. It's kind of encouraged. And I think there's a tendency among professional athletes not to look into the right equation in terms of risks versus benefits."
The gun culture that exists in the sports world as America has sadly seen runs through the very fabric of American society. When you can visit your local Wal-Mart or Dick’s Sporting Goods and buy a gun, it’s not only easy to purchase guns, it becomes commonplace.
"You've got good Americans who love to play sports, who are disciplined, who are responsible, and they're no different from any other Americans," the NRA’s LaPierre added. "Owning guns is a mainstream part of American culture, and it's growing every day."
Following the July movie massacre in Aurora, Colorado guns sales increased by 43 percent in the Aurora area. Gun sales increased by more than 60 percent in the Tucson area following the 2010 shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Giffords survived the shooting that resulted in six deaths. Sadly mass murder is good for business if you’re in the business of selling guns in America.
The tragic events that have unfolded in the last few weeks have created a national debate, one where hopefully both sides will have an opportunity to express their feelings on gun control in America. Those who believe in greater gun control will grab the moment and try and push for greater control in America. Before that does or doesn’t take place it’s time for America and Americans to have a healthy discussion about the right to bear arms.
For Sports Business News this is Howard Bloom