Athletes and Guns: Armed ... Dangerous?

The Indiana Pacers' Stephen Jackson made headlines and created controversy when he allegedly pulled a gun during a night out with his teammates. On Oct. 6, Jackson got into an early morning fight outside a strip club in Indianapolis. According to police, Jackson fired at least five shots in the air. Jackson and two of his teammates had their guns seized by police, but Jackson was the only player charged. He has since pleaded not guilty to charges of battery, disorderly conduct and felony criminal recklessness. His trial is scheduled for Feb. 12.

"I think what Stephen needs to realize is he put himself in even greater danger by pulling the gun," Malone said. "Because what stops this person from getting on the telephone, turning the corner, telling his buddies to come down -- 'This man got a gun' -- and shoot him?"

Following Jackson's arrest, NBA commissioner David Stern said he would like players to leave their guns at home when they go out in public. "I don't think it's necessary to walk the streets packing a gun," Stern said during his preseason teleconference. "I think it's dangerous for our players.

"It's a pretty widely accepted statistic that if you carry a gun, your chances of being shot by one increase dramatically," Stern said. "We think this is an alarming subject, that although you'll read players saying how they feel safer with guns, in fact those guns actually make them less safe. And it's a real issue."

Some Say Issue Should Be Decided by Individuals, Not Leagues

Pierce said he is not confident that Stern truly comprehends the players' position in this matter.

"I understand David Stern wants to clean up the image, but I think David Stern has to understand where we come from and what some of the players like to do," Pierce said. "I mean, we want to be looked at like normal people, but it's unfortunate that we can't."

Williams said athletes should be able to make their own decision on when and where to carry a gun for protection: "No league has the right to tell you how to defend yourself."

The NBA and NFL have similar policies regarding players and guns, each noting that even if players are licensed to carry a gun, they cannot carry them into stadiums and arenas, practice facilities or on team planes.

Although Major League Baseball has no written policy on players and guns, Scott says he never carried a gun into Minute Maid Park or on Astros'road trips. But everywhere else he goes, Scott says he is packing and prepared.

While Scott, Williams and Malone preach gun safety and advocate caution, all agree they will not hesitate to use their weapon for protection if their lives are in jeopardy.

"I hope I never have to pull my gun on anyone," Williams said. "I don't ever want to have to do that. But I will defend my life and the lives of people in my family."

Said Malone: "Would I use a gun if I had to? Absolutely. If it's my life and your life, and that's what it came down to? A gun? And we can't work it out no other way? Yes. Absolutely. But I hope in my life it never gets to that."

Scott discussed how his gun could save his life.

"If someone comes up in a threatening manner, you can say it with words. After that, action."

Scott reaches into his back pocket, draws his handgun and extends his arm in the ready position.

"This right here is enough to say, 'What do you need?' You better back off."

Steve Delsohn is a reporter; Arty Berko and Lindsay Rovegno are producers for "Outside the Lines." Researcher Shahien Nasiripour contributed to this story.

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