With news of yet another star pro athlete being arrested on gun-related charges stemming from a domestic dispute, it’s hard not to wonder why anyone with so much money would want or need to own a firearm.
New York Knicks Point Guard Raymond Felton was arrested early in the morning of Feb. 25 and received felony gun charges for a domestic incident involving his wife, Ariane Raymondo-Felton, who reportedly told her husband she was leaving him and has since filed for divorce. Felton allegedly brandished the illegal handgun “aggressively” during the argument with his wife who called police. The gun he allegedly wielded was a high-powered FNH 5.7 x 28mm semi-automatic handgun, which was reportedly loaded with a clip of 18 armor-piercing rounds once used legally by only law enforcement, the military, and the Secret Service prior to the lapse of a federal assault weapons ban in 2004.
Talk about overkill.
Although no one was injured in the incident, the case bore eerie similarities to the 2007 arrest of NFL Wide Receiver Plaxico Burress, who spent years in prison for carrying an illegal firearm into a New York night club and accidentally shooting himself in the leg. Then there’s the 2012 tragic story of former Chiefs Linebacker Jovan Belcher, who shot himself in the head in the parking lot of his team’s facilities after reportedly shooting and killing his girlfriend, Kassandra Perkins, following an argument.
That incident prompted a national dialogue about guns in America, following a post NFL Sunday Night Football rant from Sports Broadcaster Bob Costas. “Give me one example of an athlete by virtue of his having a gun, took a dangerous situation and turned it around for the better,” Costas said during the telecast. “I can’t think of a single one. Sadly, I can think of dozens that by virtue of having a gun, a professional athlete wound up in a tragic situation… No one is saying that Belcher is not responsible. However, the ready easy availability of guns makes mayhem easier. The easy availability of guns makes this sort of thing far more likely to occur."
Costas’ point is a valid one. People of all ages and all backgrounds get angry from time to time. Many of them own guns and most of those who do manage not to shoot their loved ones. But for others, having a gun in the middle of heated argument is like lighting a match in a room full of dynamite. The odds of causing a catastrophic explosion increase exponentially.
But how do we weigh the interests of those who would use guns to do harm with those who feel they need guns to protect themselves or their families? The fact remains that while the faces associated with the NRA and gun rights advocates are primarily white, the victims and perpetrators of gun crime in America are disproportionately black. The number one cause of death for African-American males between the ages of 18-25 is homicide. Those homicides come primarily at the gun-wielding hands of other "African American" males.
Many of those who live in high-crime communities where these deaths occur feel they need their own guns to protect themselves and their loved ones. Can we really blame them? Should we expect them to rely on police in communities where cops are largely viewed as the enemy, or cooperating with law enforcement can get you killed? If this narrative agrees with you, then consider that it’s this same mentality from which many black athletes like Felton, Burress, and Belcher come from.
It’s a vicious cycle that no one seems to know how to break, present company included.