When it comes to controversial topics in the media and in everyday life, not many can ruffle as many feathers as firearms. In the hands of some people they are useful tools for defense, hunting and recreation, and in the hands of others, they are nightmarish murder implements. It really does depend on the person using them. Most of the world has gone soft, and more and more people are relinquishing their firearms due to government regulation and other pressures. Here in Canada, gun owners are treated like criminals by a governing body that functions increasingly on fear-mongering and intimidation.
This sadly, is the trend in the developed world. Citizens are asked to give up their ability to protect themselves, in exchange for the illusion of police enforced safety. It doesn't work, because criminals don't register or relinquish their firearms, but don't try telling that to a liberal, as they might report you to the nearest bureaucrat.
With what seems like a nonstop series of stories involving athletes in trouble for violent crimes, firearms are a topic sometimes discussed within the world of sports. While it is somewhat frowned upon for athletes to out themselves as gun owners and supporters (for reasons of political correctness and endorsement concerns), many do own firearms. Some estimate that as high as three quarters of NFL players own weapons and others speculate similar numbers for the NBA, with soccer, hockey and baseball being significantly lower.Here are fifteen of the most notoriously pro gun athletes.
15 LeBron James
We start or list of confirmed athletes with LeBron James, probably the best basketball player in the league right now and possibly the best ever (depending who you ask). The two-time NBA champion and four-time league MVP is also a responsible gun owner who has been documented shooting at ranges with his wife. While he did call for greater protection for children in schools after the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, nothing in his Tweet indicated anything about gun control, despite what you may have heard from confused liberals. King James may not be a gunslinging wild man, but his trips to the gun range show that he surely enjoys his firearms.
14 Jayson Williams
Jayson Williams played nineseasons in the NBA before retiring in 1999, having sustained a broken leg that ended his playing career. He was in the first year of a massive contract, but had lost significant movement in his leg and considered himself unable to contribute.
A couple of years later in 2002, he was showing some friends his home and stopped by the gun collection. He grabbed a 12-gauge shotgun and forgot to examine it prior to showing off and goofing around with it. It was loaded and he shot his limo driver, killing him. After a long time in court and several appeals, he was sentenced to aggravated assault. He was released from prison back in 2012. Williams may need to be filed under "formerly pro-gun" these days.
13 Oscar Pistorius
Probably one of the most famous sprinters in the world, Oscar Pistorius is of course the South African runner who competed in both Paralympic and able-bodied competition, despite not having lower legs. In 2013, he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, having mistaken her for an intruder in the middle of the night. Many argued that because of his upbringing in South Africa, a country known for a high crime rate, he lived in a state of fear and the shooting was an accident. Accident or not, the Blade Runner was found guilty of culpable homicide.
He was well known to be a gun owner, but in the years leading up to the shooting he had become a collector. Much like Jayson Williams, maybe his views on and enthusiasm for guns have changed recently.
12 Delonte West
The nine year NBA veteran who has also played in China, gained notoriety back in 2009 when he was pulled over with a 9mm pistol, a .357 magnum revolver and a shotgun on his person. He explained his side of the story years later and explained that people partying in his house had found his stash of weapons, which he claimed to use for hunting and were allegedly handling them in an unsafe manner. He was nearly delirious due to medication at the time, but determined that driving the weapons to a different location was his best bet to avoid a really bad situation. A poor judgement call while trying to make a good one.
11 Randy Orton
Orton is not only one of the most successful WWE wrestlers of the last couple of decades, he has also dabbled in acting and could quite probably equip a small army with the guns he owns. He has posted pictures of them online, and owns rifles, shotguns, many handguns and essentially everything that isn't a grenade launcher or flamethrower.
10 Charles Barkley
Athlete turned broadcaster Charles Barkley is one of the game's all-time greats and voiced an opinion about gun control after Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher's murder- suicide in 2012. After Bob Costas politicized that tragic event, Barkley corrected him, arguing that it was an issue of domestic violence, rather than anything that had to bring up the gun control discussion. Barkley himself admitted to carrying a gun throughout his career and said that guns were important for hunters, along with personal protection.
9 Jose Canseco
Yet again, we may be talking about an athlete who used to be pro-gun. Jose Canseco was one of the best sluggers in the game for a while and he is also widely considered one of the most significant whistle-blowers for steroids in MLB. Along with these credentials, he had a consistently growing list of run-ins with the law throughout his career.
He was arrested for having a handgun in his car back in 1989, had multiple domestic issues with his wives throughout the 90s and had a couple of drug related mishaps. He is a gun owner, but gained attention in late 2014 for shooting off one of his fingers while cleaning one of his many pistols.
8 James Harrison
One of the linebackers for the two most recent Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl winning teams, James Harrison is a heck of a hitter and is known to play a mean, occasionally dirty game. He is a former Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year and one of the heroes of Super Bowl XLIII, having returned a Kurt Warner interception for 100 yards and a score.
In the wake of the Jovan Belcher incident, Harrison argued that it was the fault of Belcher alone and that blaming the gun was pointless. He is a gun owner and has argued that if guns are all taken away, everybody's probability to become a victim skyrockets. He believes that responsible firearm use and ownership are parts of American life.
7 Karl Malone
A nineteen year veteran of the NBA, Karl Malone was an All-Star over a dozen times and a league MVP twice. Off the court, he has been vocal on some political issues, mainly of the Republican variety. One of his choice policies is gun advocacy and he has served on the board of the NRA. He has made some comments in favor of some level of control after two Washington Wizards players pointed guns at each other int he locker room in 2010. With that said, most of his firearm related comments have expressed his fondness for hunting and the belief that gun ownership is something important for Americans and any free person.
6 Jeremy Mayfield
The former NASCAR driver is currently suspended indefinitely from the sport after testing positive for methamphetamine. He has never said anything particularly pro-gun during or after his career, but back in 2011, police raided his home, finding loads of meth, many guns and of course, stolen goods. He is by no means a great example of the responsible gun owners in sport, but he is a gun owning athlete nonetheless. He has returned to racing in the past two years, but remains suspended from NASCAR.
5 Lonny Baxter
Former NBA player Lonny Baxter, who has played for leagues all over the world now, has a history of stupid gun-related legal issues. Back in 2006, he was arrested in Washington D.C. near the White House, for shooting a pistol into the air. In the same year, he was arrested for trying to ship four guns via FedEx. Clearly he is a fan of firearms, but he also doesn't seem to be a fan of proper transport of them or sensible use.
4 Joe Riggs
Seasoned mixed martial arts veteran Joe Riggs has been in the sport for over a decade, with wins against names like Nick Diaz, Phil Baroni and a young Herb Dean back in 2003. He is currently in his second stint with the UFC, but with two consecutive losses it isn't looking too good.
While he was never particularly vocal about his views on guns, he was (is) an owner of a couple and shot himself in the leg while cleaning one last year. He had all of the proper permits so there was no legal action, but photos were released online and they were very unpleasant. If we can learn anything from Riggs and Canseco, for God's sake be careful cleaning your guns. Remember the rule: make the gun safe before cleaning it, if you don't know what "safe" means, then learn, damn it! (It's more than just the safety).
3 Dwight Howard
One of the NBA's best known good guys is Dwight Howard who had played for the Orlando Magic, L.A. Lakers, and currently the Houston Rockets. He's one of the best defensive players in the league and has a reputation for charitable work and strong Christian faith.
The center from Georgia is a huge firearms fan with over fifty in his collection. He argues that he likes all kinds of guns and that the second amendment is important as it allows Americans to live their lives as they see fit. He has indicated that one of his favorite activities is going to the range for a few hours.
2 Bo Jackson
Bo Jackson is probably the most impressive athletes in the history of American sport. While few can truly excel in one sport, Jackson was a Pro Bowl running back in the NFL (for one season) and played eight seasons in MLB, playing in the 1989 All Star Game.
Having retired from both sports, Bo Jackson is a huge fan of hunting and while he prefers to hunt with a bow, he is known to possess a few firearms, including a .45 handgun with which he took down a bear.
1 Darnell Dockett
Any gun I post on social network I own and have a license for!! And I now have a permit to carry a conceal weapon. I'm strapped right now😬— DARNELL DOCKETT (@ddockett) March 28, 2014
The three time Pro Bowl defensive end has been in the NFL for over a decade and made it to the Super Bowl with the Arizona Cardinals, only to lose to James Harrison and the Steelers. He is now with the San Francisco 49ers and has a difficult season ahead of him after several defensive starters, Chris Borland, Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Anthony Davis retired during this offseason.
Off the field, Dockett is known as a gun collector. He has posted his collection a few times on social media, but has also indicated that his guns are legally purchased and that he has licenses to carry them.