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Author Topic: Proliferation of Professional Athletes carrying concealed weapons.  (Read 747 times)
ieffinhatecardio
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« on: November 10, 2006, 09:18:45 AM »

The below is an article from today's Boston Globe, I know it's long but I figured it was easier to just post the article in it's entirety than post a link because the website requires membership to read certain things.

Anyway, it seems it's more common than uncommon for athletes to carry concealed weapons. Eventually this is going to end in tragedy. I'm not a gun person so I don't like this to begin with but I don't understand the logic in allowing some of these people to carry around guns. Some of these athletes are the scum of the earth and if not for their athletic ability would be on the street corner robbing people and selling drugs. Something bad is going to come out of this and by that I mean an innocent bystander is going to either get killed or wounded by one of these athletes.

Many players regard firearm as a necessity
Concealed weapon licenses common

By Bob Hohler, Globe Staff  |  November 10, 2006

A tower of power, he stands 7 feet 1 inch, weighs 325 pounds, and bears a tattoo of Superman's signature "S" on his massive left arm. Yet NBA great Shaquille O'Neal protects himself off the basketball court with more than his physical might and inky bond with the Man of Steel.

He is licensed to carry a concealed weapon.

So are many other American sports figures, including NBA stars Paul Pierce and Vince Carter, NFL standouts Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison, and Daunte Culpepper, and New York Yankee pitcher Carl Pavano, according to players and a Globe review of concealed weapon permits in states where the names of license holders are public record.

In an era in which rich and famous athletes increasingly perceive danger in the worlds they inhabit, legions have armed themselves against muggers, carjackers, jewelry-snatchers, and various other predators they consider potential threats. Players and team officials estimated a vast majority of NBA and NFL athletes carry firearms -- legally or illegally -- and that the number of handgun owners among them has reached an all-time high.

Handgun ownership is much less prevalent in Major League Baseball and rare in the National Hockey League.

"I would say about 90 percent of players in the league have guns to protect themselves," said New England Patriots receiver Jabar Gaffney, who holds a Texas license to carry a concealed weapon.

In the NBA, the figure "is closer to 100 percent than it is to 50 [percent]," said a team official who requested anonymity.

By adding handguns to their evening accessories, athletes not only have raised the stakes in their pursuit of personal security but may have increased the likelihood they could face criminal charges, as Gaffney learned last summer.

Gaffney is one of at least 27 elite athletes who have been investigated in the last 21 months for incidents involving firearms, according to news reports. He was charged after a traffic stop in New Jersey in June with illegal possession of a handgun (nearly 30 states honor concealed weapons permits from Texas, but New Jersey is not among them).

While Gaffney's case unfolded peacefully, some professional athletes fear the potential consequences of the proliferation of handguns in their ranks. Last month, police seized pistols from three Indiana Pacers and charged one, Stephen Jackson, with felony criminal recklessness after Jackson allegedly fired five shots in the air during an early-morning fight outside an Indianapolis strip club. All three players -- Jackson, Marquis Daniels, and Jamaal Tinsley -- were licensed in Indiana to carry concealed weapons.

"Fortunately, nobody has gotten killed" in recent years, said Boston Celtics center Theo Ratliff, who said he does not carry a firearm but has seen handgun ownership rise among NBA players during his 11 seasons in the league. "If something like that happens, it would put a big X on the situation."

Many players, however, worry more about their safety than how the public perceives them packing guns. "We make a lot of money and have nice things, like nice cars and stuff, and we need protection," said Patriots defensive back Asante Samuel, who obtained a license in Florida to carry a concealed weapon. "Most of us have kids and family and we want to be able to protect ourselves and our families from any harm or danger."

Pierce said he obtained licenses in Massachusetts and California to carry concealed weapons after he narrowly escaped death in 2000 when he was stabbed eight times, suffering a collapsed lung and a wound near his heart, at a nightclub in Boston's Theater District.

Pierce, who said he keeps his handgun at home, described the attack as "a reality check."

"Earlier in my career, I was more outgoing and pretty much thought I could go anywhere and not get bothered, even though people knew who I was," he said. "But that's not the case. There's a lot of jealousy in the world."

Now, Pierce said, "I know we're in a position where every time you go out and people see you driving a nice car and wearing a fancy watch, it's in the back of your head that somebody might come up on you."

Somebody came up on Pierce's teammate, Sebastian Telfair, last month near Justin's, a New York nightclub, and ripped a $50,000 chain from Telfair's neck. Police investigated whether the robbery was connected to the shooting less than three hours later of the rapper Fabolous at the same location. No charges have been filed in the robbery or shooting.

Public figures
Carrying firearms for personal security is not new to professional athletes. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, police discovered handguns in vehicles owned by Irving Fryar of the Patriots and NBA stars Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen. And more than a decade has passed since NFL linebacker Bryan Cox famously referred to the dangers of his childhood neighborhood in explaining why he owned handguns.

"Where I'm from," said Cox, who was raised in East St. Louis, Ill., "a gun is like a credit card -- you don't leave home without it."

While it's impossible to tally how many athletes illegally carry firearms, the total number of those who are licensed to carry concealed weapons also is incalculable because of laws backed by the National Rifle Association that prohibit the vast majority of states from license disclosure. Of the 46 states that require permits to carry concealed weapons, only a small number have made those records public, including Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, and South Carolina.

Two states -- Alaska and Vermont -- allow individuals to carry concealed weapons without permits, while two other states -- Illinois and Wisconsin -- prohibit carrying concealed weapons.

Some law enforcement officials said they recognize the danger high-profile athletes may face.

"Sometimes I worry about giving permits to young people, but these guys have a lot of money and sometimes people want to do stuff to them," said David Warren, the sheriff of Macon County, Ala., where New York Giants cornerback Frank Walker is licensed to carry a concealed weapon. "We've got to consider the circumstances they're in. It's sad, but they need some form of protection."

In Massachusetts, 203,302 residents were licensed to carry concealed weapons as of August, according to the state Criminal History Systems Board. That's about one of every 23 residents among the 4.6 million who are at least 21 years old, the minimum age to obtain a license. But state law bars authorities from releasing the names of permit holders to "prevent individuals with devious motives from ascertaining who possesses firearms," according to a guide published by Secretary of State William F. Galvin.

Critics contend the prohibition prevents the public from knowing whether individuals with devious motives may possess firearms.

"Denying the public access to these records significantly impairs efforts to analyze the effects of concealed weapons laws on public safety and even to determine whether the permitting process is working properly," said Laura Cutilletta, a staff attorney for the San Francisco-based Legal Community Against Violence, which monitors gun laws.

The Globe, in a review of the small number of states that disclose the names of permit holders, found more than 50 professional athletes had obtained licenses to carry concealed weapons. (Many states that seal records from the public rank among the largest, including California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia .)

The license holders identified in the Globe review included eight players selected for the 2006 NFL Pro Bowl (Harrison, James, Santana Moss, Jason Taylor, Bob Sanders, Cato June, Jeff Saturday, and Marcus Stroud) and three members of the NBA's 2006 All-Star team (O'Neal, Pierce, and Carter).

There were former college criminology majors, such as Willis McGahee of the Buffalo Bills, Marquand Manuel of the Green Bay Packers, and Aaron Stecker of the New Orleans Saints. There were 10 Jacksonville Jaguars, including a 350-pound lineman, Stockar McDougle. And seven Indianapolis Colts, including June, a former member of the National Honor Society.

The list included Marlon McCree of the San Diego Chargers, who once received an honorary key to the city of Orlando; Michael Lewis, a former man of the year for the New Orleans Saints; Stephen Davis of the St. Louis Rams, the former ambassador of physical fitness in South Carolina; and Jevon Kearse of the Eagles, whose brother, father, grandfather, uncle, and cousin all died in separate incidents of gunshot wounds.

The players ranged in age from Jacksonville cornerback Chris Roberson, who turned 23 in June, to Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Ted Washington, 38, formerly of the Patriots. And they shared a common concern: safety.

"It's a sad thing, but there are people out there who see us as targets," Gaffney said. "We never know who might want to do us harm, so we have to take steps to make sure we're safe."

'A generational thing'
Beyond their wealth and celebrity, many athletes are linked by a culture in which images of firearms abound.

"We're seeing a generation of athletes coming into professional sports who have grown up with the glamorization of carrying a handgun," said Peter Roby, director of the Center for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University.

"But there's also a practical side to" players carrying firearms, Roby said. "These are young people who have an awful lot of money and are worried about whether they are going to be a target of somebody who wants some of that money."

Many wealthy athletes, including LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Jermaine O'Neal of the Pacers, hire private security guards for protection. Some take other precautions.

"A lot of guys in the league don't have the money to pay for around-the-clock security, so they go out with entourages," Pierce said. "With entourages, you can use the people close to you as a shield so you don't have to put yourself in a position that you have to pull out a gun."

Ratliff said entourages are especially common among players who frequent late-night venues .

"The guys who go out to nightclubs, they either run with a lot of guys to try to offset people getting at them or they carry a gun," Ratliff said.

Had Pierce been carrying a gun the night he was stabbed, he was asked, how might things have been different? "It probably wouldn't have been any different," he said. "Stuff happens so fast, who knows if it would have changed the outcome."

Pierce's coach, Doc Rivers, said nothing is gained by athletes packing guns. An NBA player from 1984-96, Rivers described the rising prominence of firearms among sports figures as "a generational thing," driven in part by the enormous celebrity of many contemporary athletes and the public's emphasis on their lucrative salaries, particularly on talk radio.

"Their celebrity and all the talk about their money puts a target on their back," Rivers said. "They have to be concerned about their safety."

But Rivers echoed NBA commissioner David Stern, who -- in a stunning plea by the head of a major professional sport -- urged players to leave their guns at home. Both the NBA and NFL have policies that bar players from carrying guns on league business and have stepped up efforts through seminars and other educational programs to discourage players from carrying handguns.

The trouble is, many athletes believe danger lurks at nearly every turn.

"Even when I do charity work, there's always a couple of kids who say, 'I can beat you up,' " said Patriots tight end Ben Watson. "They see you on TV and they want to do the tough act and all that."

Urging self-restraint
Watson and several other professional athletes who shun carrying handguns said their challenge is avoiding potential trouble.

"As far as what happened to [Telfair] and those guys, a lot of it is about where you go and what situations you put yourself in," Watson said. "For me, it's about trying to stay out of those situations."

Another player's suggestion: Don't advertise your wealth. "My thing is, if you don't wear the $50,000 chain, you don't need a gun to protect yourself," said Patriots lineman Jarvis Green, who said he goes unarmed.

Several ranked self-restraint among their best defenses. "You have to learn to walk away if somebody starts something," said Patriots receiver Doug Gabriel, who expressed no interest in carrying a gun.

The alternative could be devastating, especially for an armed athlete, according to Roby.

"It's inevitable that players are going to get into situations either by their own doing or somebody provoking them," Roby said. "But there's always the concern that somebody's going to get hit with an athlete's stray bullet or that an athlete is going to feel his life is threatened and shoot somebody and go to jail for a long time if it's proven not to be self-defense."

Pierce opts for entourages and private security to avoid such a possibility. "But if someone comes in my house," he said, "that's a different story."

Samuel said he has never felt compelled to draw his gun since he obtained his license to carry a concealed weapon in 2002, his senior year at the University of Central Florida. He said growing up in Florida convinced him he needed the license.

"There's a lot more crime down South, so you have to watch your back at all times," Samuel said. "I knew I was going to have a chance to make it to the NFL and I needed protection, for whatever reason."

Florida, like most states, requires individuals who apply for licenses to document they have been trained in firearm safety.

"I wanted to do it the right way," Samuel said. "I didn't want to get in trouble."

Gaffney said he joined a group of teammates in a firearm safety course during his rookie season with the Houston Texans in 2002. And though he remains concerned someone "might be out there trying to do us harm," he said he has yet to grow fearful enough to draw his gun.

"Hopefully," Gaffney said, "that day will never come."

Bob Hohler can be reached at hohler@globe.com
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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2006, 09:21:54 AM »

everyone in FL carries a piece, and all we have to lose is out pickup trucks and the bloodhound in back.

If I was wearing some $50,000 jewelry, I'd prob be carrying a whole suitcase of guns.
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ieffinhatecardio
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2006, 09:29:26 AM »

I'd much rather these athletes hire bodyguards than carry around guns. Some of those players are utter scumbags, not the kind of people that should have license to be carrying around something that could so easily kill someone.
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