In light of Marvin Harrison’s possible involvement in a shooting in Philly, I decided to do a little research into the NFL’s policy on the possession of firearms by it’s players/employees.
I found a copy of the policy at ESPN.com and I have to say that I was more than a little disturbed.
Guns and Weapons Policy
This policy applies to all employees of the NFL and its member clubs, including players.
Prohibitions. Whether possessed legally or illegally, guns and other weapons of any kind are dangerous. You and your family can easily be the losers if you carry or keep these items in your home. You must not possess these weapons while traveling on League-related business or whenever you are on the premises of the following:
• A facility owned, operated or being used by an NFL club (for example, training camp, dormitory, locker room, workout site, parking area, team bus, team plane, team hotel/motel);
• A stadium or any other venue being used for an NFL event (for example, a game, practice or promotion);
• A facility owned or operated by the NFL or any League company.
Put simply, the League, the Players Association and law enforcement authorities urge you to recognize that you must not possess a gun or other weapon at any time you are performing any service for your team or the NFL.
Legal Possession. In some circumstances, such as for sport or protection, you may legally possess a firearm or other weapon. However, we strongly recommend that you not do so. Any weapon, particularly a firearm, is dangerous — especially so when it is in a vehicle or within reach of children and others not properly trained in its use.
Understanding the Law. If you legally possess a weapon, you must understand the local, state and federal laws that apply. The NFL Security Representative in your area will help you get information about these laws. You should be aware that if you take a weapon from one place to another — for example, across state lines — a different set of laws may apply in the new place.
Discipline. If you violate this policy on guns and other weapons, you are subject to discipline, including suspension from playing. And if you violate a public law covering weapons — for example, possession of an unlicensed firearm — you are not only subject to discipline, including suspension from playing, but also subject to criminal prosecution.
Remember, be careful and understand the risks.
Now, I do agree with the first part of that, where NFL prohibits the possession of weapons in stadiums and other team-owned facilities, because I believe that as the (sort of) employer of all these players they have the right to prohibit weapons and whatever else they may want to prohibit on their facilities.
What I find offensive and irritating are the hoplophobic comments inserted in a couple of different places throughout the policy:
Whether possessed legally or illegally, guns and other weapons of any kind are dangerous. You and your family can easily be the losers if you carry or keep these items in your home.
In some circumstances, such as for sport or protection, you may legally possess a firearm or other weapon. However, we strongly recommend that you not do so. Any weapon, particularly a firearm, is dangerous — especially so when it is in a vehicle or within reach of children and others not properly trained in its use.
It’s just feeding the “guns r scary” mindset that you see so often in the sports world. The policy would be quite sufficient to cover their legal bases of not having people tote guns around and advise players of the legalities involved without going into PSH over people owning and carrying firearms. I really don’t like the first bit, where it says “you and your family can be losers if you keep a gun” – it feeds directly into the myth that guns kept in the home are magically more dangerous than any other gun in the world.
Athletes and public figures have just as much of a right to privacy and self-defense as you and I, and yet the NFL’s official policy is taking the stance of discouraging their players from possessing and using firearms for their own safety and well being. While the league has every right to prohibit possession of weapons on “company property”, I find that the language used in their “official policy” is over-the-top and completely unnecessary.