NEW YORK -- Police tell the Kansas City Star that Jovan Belcher’s mother saw him kiss his girlfriend on the forehead—saying he was sorry—seconds after he shot her on Saturday. He also kissed his baby daughter and apologized to his mother.
Kansas City Police say Belcher legally owned the handgun he used to kill Kasandra Perkins and then himself.
There are no official numbers, but some players and coaches say that 50 to 90 percent of National Football League players own guns.
Former pro football player Marcellus Wiley—a gun control advocate—speaking three years ago at the Brady Center about why he used to carry a gun, said, “I’m 21 years old, I have a lot of money in one pocket and a gun in the other pocket and I’m saying, ‘Please, leave me alone.’ “
Wiley said, “I remember taking this same gun to the nightclubs, to the restaurants where I would go eat—not to be a villain but just really in a warped sense of mind and identity, trying to protect myself.”
Unfortunately, gun violence is not a new story for the NFL. In 2006, police found six firearms—including two assault rifles—in the home of then-Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson. In 2008, former New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg with his own gun at a nightclub. In 2009, retired star quarterback Steve McNair was shot to death by his mistress in a murder-suicide. After the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide this past weekend, sportscaster Bob Costas set off a bit of controversy when he decided to address the issue of gun control during an NFL broadcast. Costas said, “If Jovan Belcher did not possess a gun, he and Kassandra Perkins would both be alive today.”
New York Times sportswriter William Rhoden says the issue of guns and athletes is about youth, money, and perceived power. Rhoden said, “Why do athletes love guns? Well, the reality is that this is a gun culture—lots of people, lots of people with money own guns.”
“The problem is that many of them don’t outgrow their environment,” Rhoden said. “Our new national pastime, which is this violent sport, has some deep-seeded issues.”
The NFL has been out front of the problem. The league has had a strict gun policy in place since 1996 that prohibits players from bringing guns to any facility or event affiliated with the NFL. But that was not enough to stop a tragedy in Kansas City this past weekend.
Addressing guns and the NFL, CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, a former FBI assistant director, explained the NFL’s guidelines with respect to firearms. He said, “Well, what they do is—they’ve got this policy, and Jeff Miller, the former head of the Pennsylvania State Police, head of security for the NFL, John Rossi, former assistant director of the FBI, his deputy. They go team-to-team, city-to-city, and they sit down with them and go over a number of security issues, but they cover this gun policy very carefully saying, ‘Every law in every state is different. You can’t go traveling around with it without understanding those laws.’”
“But the key is, this policy is very strict. It says NFL (firearms) prohibitions: a facility owned, operated or being used by an NFL club, a stadium or any other venue being used for an NFL event, a facility owned or operated—that means stadiums, locker rooms, hotel rooms, buses, planes. Their cars are screened coming into stadiums for parking. So a violation of that means hitting them in the pocketbook and a possible suspension.”
NFL officials look at the firearms issue from a practical sense, Miller said. “You have a number of people who come from tough places in tough cities who now go home to see friends, to see family, to visit the neighborhood, but then you have the complicating factor that you end up in Overtown, (Fla.) in Center City, (Pa.) or in the inner city of Baltimore, and you’re stopped at a light with $100,000 worth of jewelry and a gold Bentley convertible, you are a target, that’s on the profile side. On the personal side, you have (NFL player) Sean Taylor, who was killed if a home invasion where he was the target because they believed he was rich and he had money in the house. So on a personal security basis, they address this as a reality they have to deal with.”
Speaking more directing on the case of this murder-suicide, Miller said, “I would revert to the profilers about what are the characteristics of the murder-suicide, and was the gun obtained for the purpose of that? Was this part of a plan? In this case, that’s probably not entirely clear. In fact, the investigation is still focused on where did this gun come from? Was it his or someone else’s? So I guess my point is, if someone’s planning to do something like that and they’re determined, there’s very little in terms of either regulations or law that’s going to stop them.”
Asked about the next steps for the NFL in the wake of the murder-suicide, Miller said, “I don’t think there is a next step, except they’re going to reinforce that message, the penalties for violating those rules. But also, we have obtained a copy of the NFL players’ personal security guide. This booklet tells them what to do to stay safe, and in 30 pages, it doesn’t say anything about if you have a gun. What it says is have your house alarmed when you’re away and while you’re asleep. Have a panic room installed with the hinges on the inside and a charged cell phone inside. So they’re playing defense, not offense in the personal security rules.”