Something positive has come out of the otherwise senseless murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher: some NFL players are giving up their guns.
During NBC’s Football Night in America on Sunday, Peter King said at least seven football players turned in their weapons to their teams’ security personnel following the Dec. 1 incident. According to the report, one athlete told team officials he didn’t trust himself with the firearms around.
Police said Belcher shot and killed his 22-year-old girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, at their Kansas City home. The 25-year-old player then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and shot himself in front of Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli and Coach Romeo Crennel.
Belcher’s actions and controversial comments from NBC sportscaster Bob Costas sparked a public debate on “gun culture” in America–a little-talked-about aspect of the professional sports community.
“Give me one example of a professional athlete who by virtue of his having a gun, took a dangerous situation and turned it around for the better,” Costas told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell in an exclusive interview. “I can’t think of a single one. But sadly, I can think of dozens where by virtue of having a gun, a professional athlete wound up in a tragic situation.”
A recent USA Today investigation found three out of four NFL players own guns, compared with about 40% to 45% of the general population.
Last Thursday, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre argued that Perkins would still be alive if she owned a gun. “The one thing missing in that equation is that woman owning a gun so she could have saved her life from that murderer,” he said. A memorial service for Perkins was held on that same day.
Guns found at the scene of the crime were legally registered to Belcher.