Professional football was shocked by the news that Kansas City linebacker Javon Belcher had shot his fiancée nine times, before driving to the Chiefs' training facility and killing himself. He left his infant daughter an orphan. Media outlets were filled with talking heads conjecturing what the cause had been and the consequences on the Chiefs season. Life went on without anyone stating a basic truth -- guns kill people. The ease of simply pulling a trigger finalizes conflict, which might otherwise be resolved. It transforms rage, which might manifest itself verbally or in fist fighting into the most extreme form of violence. This was not the first incident of gun violence associated with anger and it will not be the last.
Sports figures have the ability to serve as role models and trigger imitative behavior. They could serve as powerful figures campaigning against the excessive availability of automatic weapons. Instead, large numbers of athletes own firearms in the belief that it will help them protect themselves. History shows that more people are killed misfiring or spurring a violent response from intruders in a home invasion than lives are saved by guns' "protection."
Instead of the Belcher tragedy being a spur to a review of the availability of guns, life went on. Not long ago a disturbed individual terrorized a Portland shopping center with his gun. Friday, an almost unthinkable tragedy involving young children occurred in a Connecticut elementary school -- 26 deaths (20 of them are children) -- all from gun violence.
When is enough enough? What kind of atmosphere do we want prevailing in this country? If someone wants a rifle to hunt, they should have it. If someone wants a gun for self-protection, they should have it. But where in the Constitution or in public policy does it state that an unrestricted flow of automatic weapons is a protected right?
The Second Amendment states clearly that state militias have the right to bear arms. This is because our Founders feared the re-emergence of a potential Federal tyranny. They did not want a future King George to leave citizens helpless and enslaved. Nowhere in the thought process of our Founding Fathers was the individual right to bear arms contemplated. This is an invented right that the National Rifle Association has propounded. They were able to convince an extreme Supreme Court to validate that right. They have a stranglehold on Congress and legislatures across the country. Even President Obama and otherwise enlightened leaders go along with the charade of constitutionality out of fear of the NRA wrath.
Our most sacred duty is to protect our children from harm. The parents in Connecticut were powerless to do this because of the availability of automatic weapons to psychologically imbalanced individuals. This has nothing to do with depriving hunters or fearful citizens of their weapons.
I am just in the process of re-launching my practice and representing athletes again. If I did have clients in critical positions, I would be urging them to speak out. My father used to say that there is no "they that will cure problems or fight for what is right -- the they is you and me.”
-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @SteinbergSports.
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