Steelers linebacker James Harrison has never been afraid to take an unpopular stand.
But the avid gun collector said Wednesday that the fault for last weekend’s murder-suicide in Kansas City was with Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and not the gun he used to kill his girlfriend and then himself.
“It’s a big issue as far as what happened and everything, it’s a sad story,” Harrison told USA Today’s Jim Corbett. “But the fact of it being part of the guns. . . . They want to say it’s guns and all this other stuff. It’s ridiculous. He did it. And he alone is responsible for it. It has nothing to do with the guns.
“Somebody goes out and kills somebody with a knife, you going to blame the knife? Somebody goes out and kills somebody by pushing somebody in front of a train, you going to start cutting off the guy’s arms? You going to start blaming people’s arms now? It’s the person who did it who is responsible.”
Harrison said he’s long been “fascinated” by guns, and that he owns around 20. He was pictured in Men’s Journal magazine with a pair of handguns across his chest, and insists that individuals need to be able to protect themselves.
“It’s not an athlete thing, it’s a human thing,” Harrison said. “If you go and say, ‘All right, now we’re going to take guns away from everybody, and the only person who is going to have guns are the police.’ . . . if that was a good thing and that’s actually how it would go, then that would work.
“But the two people who are going to have the guns then are the police and the criminals. So now I know I can break into every house in the country that doesn’t have a gun in it because they’re no longer allowed to carry handguns. That’s not going to solve things. It’s only going to cause more problems.”
Harrison’s stance, and taking it today, might not be considered particularly sensitive. And many won’t agree.
But the only Amendment that comes before the Second is the First, giving him the right to his opinion as much as others who have used the tragedy in Kansas City as a chance to win political ground from the other direction.