There have been two high profile violent acts this month. First, the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide on December 1st in which he murdered his “on and off” girlfriend in front of his mother, then drove to the Chiefs practice facility where he turned the gun on himself in front team employees including his head coach and general manager. Belcher and his girlfriend left behind a two month old baby.
The second act of violence being the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Connecticut last Friday in which a young man named Adam Lanza broke in and killed 26 people including 20 children. This prompted widespread signs of support for the victims and their families from athletes across all sports but most prominently, the NFL.
Flags were flown at half staff, there were moments of silence, pregame tributes, decals on helmets, and the New England Patriots even sent up a flare for each victim before their game against San Francisco. Players such as Victor Cruz and Chris Johnson wrote on their equipment to remember those lost in the horrific incident. Countless others took to social media to voice their opinions about how to prevent future acts like this and show support for those affected by it.
In the wake of both of these tragedies debates about gun control will and have already surfaced. Calls for more strict regulation of assault rifles with surely be heard.
I’ll quickly summarize what any logical person should agree on. Stricter gun regulations would make gun crimes go down in numbers. This is proven in other countries such as Canada and those overseas. While it may not be a drastic decrease, every life you can save is worth saving, right?
Three out of four NFL players today own guns, according to a recent USA Today article. This is nearly 25% more than the national average.
People will continue to fight for the “right to bear arms” and people will continue to own guns; especially NFL players. This is almost for certain in our society and I am not suggesting that people give up their guns entirely.
The news recently came out that even a member of our beloved Ravens forfeited his guns to authorities. While Terrell Suggs did not give his up arsenal of six guns, including an AK-47, voluntarily, other players have a chance to do just that. They have a chance to set in motion an effort to fix the problem they were so vocal about over the weekend.
Since the Jovan Belcher incident, at least seven NFL players have voluntarily turned in their guns. This is an important step forward and an incredibly mature act by these players but it is not nearly enough. If these men are so concerned about the horrific violence we witnessed less than a week ago in Newtown, Connecticut (as evidenced by their on-field tributes and Twitter feeds) then they should put their money where their mouth is and turnover their own guns.
NFL players are some of the most famous and influential people in the United States. Thousands of Twitter followers and fans hang out every word they say. Its time they show some action and make a real difference. NFL gun owners have a chance to show those who are apathetic and those who believe the problem cannot be fixed that it indeed can be. These players can step up and be figureheads in the effort to prevent more events like these from happening.
Hall of Fame running back and social activist Jim Brown once said, “A huge crisis like this lets new leadership step forward.” NFL players can be this new leadership. All it takes is a little sacrifice and effort. Things they aren’t strangers to on the football field.