Tampa Bay running back Errict Rhett was making a career of fearlessly confronting 300-pound linemen and rock-solid linebackers, but his first encounter with real, heart-thumping fright came the day he faced a .45-caliber muzzle.
That was a decade ago[…]
“My heart started beating so fast it was uncontrollable,” he said. “I’ve never been so scared. The whole world got quiet.”
That moment changed him. Rhett, like a lot of other professional athletes, decided he would never again leave home without his own concealed handgun.
While NBA and NFL officials decline to estimate how many players are licensed to carry weapons, a spate of recent gun incidents involving professional and college players has revealed that numerous athletes apparently are armed.
NBA Commissioner David Stern tackled the subject during his annual preseason conference call in October, saying he prefers that players keep their guns at home.
“We think this is an alarming subject,” Stern said. “Although you’ll read players saying how they feel safer with guns, in fact those guns actually make them less safe.”
The commissioner argued that carrying a gun dramatically increases “your chances of being shot by one.”
Todd Boyd, a critical studies professor at USC specializing in pop culture, calls guns part of the real world of many young athletes.
“So many of these players come from impoverished, urban or rural South environments,” Boyd said. “Now you talk about that kid becoming an NBA player, making a lot of money, wearing expensive jewelry, driving expensive cars, and coming from a culture where you have to protect yourself — it’s no surprise they’re taking steps to cover each other.
“Of course, the guys who are smart have guys around them with guns — bodyguards.”
After his encounter with the .45-caliber handgun at a Tampa carwash and barbershop, when Rhett was able to talk his way out of trouble, he went on to play another five seasons in the NFL — after the Buccaneers, he went to the Ravens and the Cleveland Browns.
And he remained an armed athlete.
“It’s a simple reason,” he said. “You want to protect yourself with a gun, not flaunt it.”
These young and glamorous athletes epitomize the same universal rules that apply to everyone else. Anyone can need or want guns, or other weapons, for self-defense. Guns and other weapons are tools. Used intelligently by someone who only wants to defend himself or others, guns help out a lot. However, used foolishly and/or maliciously, guns can put both the bearer and the rest of us in danger.
So long as someone does not offensively harm or try to offensively harm anyone else, then let them keep their self-defense tools, whether guns or something else. However, if someone commits a victimizing crime, such as assault, with a gun or not, then I say let us disallow that person from possessing guns and other tools that may drive the person to commit an act of victimization, or help the person commit an act of victimization.
I personally think that more often than not it is unwise to carry a gun, namely concerning untrained carriers. More often than not, I find guns less effective than other less-dangerous self-defense tools, such as pepper spray, tasers, or martial arts. Nonetheless, it is the judgment of the individual to decide which tools he or she wishes to use in their life. Accordingly, it is the decision of an innocent and mentally-competent person to decide if he/she wants to carry or not carry a gun.
What do you think?