Column: Line Drives — Athletes should follow gun laws

[This is my column in the Feb. 27 issue of The Commercial Review.

When will professional athletes learn?

New York Knicks guard Raymond Felton was arraigned Tuesday on two felony weapons charges.

In 2008, New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was carrying an unlicensed handgun, and accidentally shot himself in the leg.

Many athletes have said they need personal protection — in the form of handguns — when they reach such levels of fame to safeguard themselves from people who may be after their fortunes.

If having a gun is the peace of mind athletes need to feel safe from some of the crazy people in this world, that’s fine, but like millions of other gun owners, it isn’t very difficult to follow the law.

Burress and Felton are just two athletes over the years to get in trouble with the law and their guns.

A convicted drug dealer sued Marvin Harrison, a former Indianapolis Colts Pro Bowl wide receiver, in 2008 after he was shot outside a Philadelphia business owned by Harrison.

The man, Dwight Dixon, was shot with a handgun that belonged to Harrison, but the Philadelphia district attorney said it was unclear who fired the shots.

In 2006, former Indiana Pacers star Stephen Jackson fired shots outside a strip club in Indianapolis when he was punched in the mouth and hit by a car.

Sebastian Telfair was nabbed not once, but twice on gun-related incidences. The first was in 2005 as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers when he tried to board a charter flight with a handgun in a pillowcase. The second came two years later when he was pulled over in New York while driving with a suspended license and authorities found a gun in the car.

Then there’s a more famous incident, when Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton brought loaded handguns into the Washington Wizards’ locker room.

And Adam “Pacman” Jones nearly ruined his NFL career when, in 2007, he left a Las Vegas club after assaulting strippers and security guards. When he returned shortly thereafter, a member of his entourage shot up the club, hitting two security guards and leaving one permanently paralyzed.

Those are just a few examples of professional athletes to have a run-in with the law related to their handguns.

What will it take, an athlete to die for pro athletes to realize they need to be smarter with their firearms?

Maybe the advice to Felton from Burress, who is no longer a gun owner, can help resolve the seemingly ignorant decisions they make with firearms.

“You just need to be smarter, make better decisions and be knowledgeable about the laws in the cities and different states if you want to be a gun owner to prevent situations like this,” Burress told ESPN’s “Outside The Lines.”

Unfortunately, though, hindsight is always 20/20.

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