Right remains theirs

Should Professional Athletes Carry Handguns?

December 04, 2008|By BILL ORDINE

It's easy to get caught up in a knee-jerk reaction to the most recent example of a professional athlete winning the modern MVP Award - Most Visible Pea-brain.

But Plaxico Burress' obvious stupidity doesn't justify eliminating a whole class of citizens from rights afforded under the Second Amendment any more than rogue reporter Jayson Blair's transgressions should be the rationale for curtailing protections under the First.

The absolutely appropriate fallout includes Burress being suspended by the New York Giants and the charges he faces for illegal gun possession, which could mean serious prison time.

But the question here is whether athletes should carry firearms at all - the presumption being that teams and leagues could forbid doing so as a condition of employment.

Unpopular or not, the answer is yes, athletes should be entitled to carry guns - with some addenda, fine print and the like. Yes, but obviously only if every legal requirement has been met and the athlete has established justification for carrying a concealed weapon. And yes, if the athlete has gone through the instruction and practice necessary to handle a gun safely. It would seem Burress failed both tests, but this issue goes beyond his folly.

Athletes, even though they have an implied obligation as role models to stay clear of gun trouble, don't forfeit their rights by virtue of their profession. And as high-profile folks who are perceived to be well-heeled and can be targets, athletes have a legitimate claim to reasonable means of self-protection.

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