Inspired by the excerpts of the ESPN interview of receiver Plaxico Burress, sports lawyer and NFLPA Executive Director finalist David Cornwell has a simple message for the NFL.
“Solve the problem.”
Said Cornwell, “There have been enough incidents involving handguns and NFL players to know that we have a problem. Plax’s situation highlights two of the major causes of the problem — gun registration and gun safety. Forget about political correctness; solve the problem.”
The league currently has a “Guns and Weapons Policy,” but it’s a one-page document with no specific guidance on how to ensure that laws won’t be violated, and only general (and obvious) safety-related information. Though a comprehensive program isn’t needed, something more meaningful from the league and/or the union would be beneficial to all players who currently own a gun or who might acquire one in the future.
As to registration, Cornwell suggests selecting a specific day each year where the team affirmatively helps every player with an unregistered firearm to get the thing properly licensed and/or to obtain a carry permit.
As to safety, Cornwell urges teams to make gun safety classes available, and to constantly remind players of basic realities of owning a gun: (1) always point your gun in a safe direction; (2) always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot; and (3) always keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.
Burress shot himself with a gun that has a weak trigger pull; indeed, Burress told ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap that he didn’t even realize he’d shot himself until he saw that his shoe was red.
Cornwell points out that there are many types of soft holsters that act as a safety by covering the trigger. Cornwell predicts that Burress didn’t even know such holsters are available.
“I bet if Plax had known this, he would have had one,” Cornwell said, adding that the investment of $25 or so in a soft holster “may save your career or a life.”
Bottom line? As Cornwell explains, with minimal cost and some sensible planning, Burress would be in training camp right now, and not awaiting sentencing on September 22.
“Instead of admiring the problem and piling on,” Cornwell said, “let’s solve the problem.”