With all the high-profile shootings in recent years, guns have again taken center stage in the national political arena. Gun control was a big issue in the '90s, but seemed to take a hiatus of sorts for over a decade.
Probably because it's almost impossible to address in any real way, hence rendering it a losing political issue. The House of Representatives is working on a two-year election cycle, so your local member of Congress probably isn't a "big picture" type.
Addressing the Second Amendment in any way isn't usually a winning proposition. People tend to love it to the point that they'd rather have you pry away their guns from their cold dead hands, than spend a single day on earth without them.
Any of them. Even the old broken ones.
They are willing to fight to the death over the issue…and they have all the guns. That's why things get so dicey when the right to bear arms becomes a topic of discussion. And there are plenty of professional athletes who have a horse in this race.
There aren't many who are coming out in support of gun control, but there are actually still two sides to this story in the sports community.
Some athletes are outspoken supporters of the Second Amendment because they say they want to protect themselves and love the Constitution. While others are the kind of gun-toting criminals the other athletes are afraid of.
And a select few manage to occupy both spaces. Kudos.
Here are 20 athletes that really love their guns.
Retired MLB All-Star Darryl Strawberry's career was plagued by drug problems and arrests for various acts of criminality. Although most of his run-ins with the law stemmed from his drug use, his habit was no excuse for his arrest in 1990.
In January of that year, Strawberry was arrested for assault after a an argument with his (then) wife, who alleged he had had hit her in the face with and threatened her with a .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun during the altercation.
She accused him of breaking her nose after a game in 1986.
Ah yes, nothing better than a drug addict with a gun. Kidding. They also divorced in '90 because there's nothing worse than a drug addict with a gun.
In May 2013, the Celtics' Terrence Williams was arrested for allegedly threatening the mother of his 10-year-old son with a gun during altercation that occurred while exchanging custody of the child.
They don't call him a shooting guard for nothin'.
Williams has denied the accusations for the most part, insisting "there's two sides to every story." Which is the rallying cry of everyone who has ever been funneled through the justice system for whatever reason.
His side of the story might be easier to believe if he didn't refuse to answer any direct questions about his possession of the gun. Williams referred reporters to the police report, which confirmed he was, in fact, in possession of a gun at the time.
Williams is said to be "frustrated" by the way he's being perceived. I'm frustrated that he was carrying a gun during a custodial exchange. We're even.
It's unknown whether former Giants wide receiver (now with the Steelers) Plaxico Burress really loved guns back when he accidentally shot himself in the thigh in 2009, or if he was particularly fond of just one gun.
Burress infamously spent a shocking two years in jail for his own stupidity, after being sentenced for charges stemming from the incident in which he brought a hand gun to a New York City nightclub.
The Big Apple is not the place you want to get busted on illegal gun charges—something Burress obviously didn't consider when he casually tucked his pistol into the waistband of his sweatpants that fateful evening.
He's lucky they didn't tack on a third additional felony charge for wearing sweatpants to a nightclub.
You have to be equal parts stupid and crazy to attempt to bring a loaded gun onto an airplane with you these days. Or any days, honestly? Even before 9/11, I don't ever remember guns being in a "gray area" in terms of airport security.
Although it wasn't much of a surprise when Darius Miles, an NBA bust dating back to 2000, was arrested in St. Louis for doing just that in August 2011.
His decision to travel with a loaded weapon was slightly less inexplicable than the fact that he was invited to Bobcats training camp in 2010. Miles didn't make the team.
Thankfully, he was cut without incident. He didn't even brandish a weapon. Two points!
Attention, Plaxico Burress: Prepare to be outraged.
Surely you recall the NFL wide receiver spent nearly two years in prison for accidentally shooting himself in the leg. Burress was made an example of back in September 2009.
Welterweight boxer Robert Guerrero was a two-time loser in May 2013. First he was busted in possession of a gun at JFK airport, then he was embarrassed by Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The gun was unloaded, but Guerrero had packed three "high-capacity bullet magazines" too. He was actually on his way to Las Vegas for the bout—perhaps he knew a gun was his only chance against Mayweather?
In any event, Guerrero pleaded ignorance and insisted he never intended to violate New York law. A defense that Burress should've tried, because it totally worked. The charges were dramatically reduced in a plea deal and Guerrero got off with a $250 fine and 50 hours of community service.
Beats two years in prison and a bullet to the thigh that should've been (almost) punishment enough.
Former NBA player Lonny Baxter played college ball at the University of Maryland and actually won a championship with the Terps in 2002.
Given that he was born, raised, and educated within a stone's throw from Washington, D.C., you'd think he'd have been more familiar with the gun situation in the District back in 2006.
The "situation" being that you weren't even allowed to legally possess a handgun in DC at the time, let alone fire one into the air a few blocks from the White House. Months later, he was arrested for attempting to ship four guns via FedEx without first notifying the company they contained firearms.
Baxter pleaded guilty, paid a fine and was sentenced to 60 days in jail. But he didn't get off as light as it sounds, considering he never played in the NBA again.
Baxter was relegated to play in the European leagues for a while, then the Eastern European leagues, and now he plays in Venezuela.
Retired NFL safety Damien Robinson doesn't have an impressive record as an NRA spokesman or an extensive rap sheet of arrests for gun possession. Sometimes it's about quality of arrests than quantity of them.
While playing for the Jets back in 2001, Robinson was on his way to Giants Stadium when security officials in place after 9/11 found a .223-caliber Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle, along with 200 rounds of ammunition, in the trunk of his car.
Looks like someone was taking all that hyperbole about the NFL being war a little too seriously, considering he was toting along an Army-grade assault rifle to games with him.
Robinson wasn't about to let the terrorists, or the Dolphins, win that day.
After being picked in the first round by the Celtics in 2004, guard Delonte West bounced around the NBA for a while, playing for a number of different teams before eventually landing with the D-League Texas Legends in 2013.
The fact that he has been diagnosed with a mood disorder and has required treatment for clinical depression in the past may have something to do with his demotion.
Those were the underlying reasons for West's 2009 arrest on the Washington Beltway in Prince George's County, Md. Apparently he was speeding on a three-wheeled motorcycle when he cut off a police officer. West was pulled over for making an "unsafe lane change" and was found to be in position of three loaded handguns.
West told the arresting officer that he had a gun in his waistband, which prompted him to call for backup. Good call. West also had a .357 magnum strapped to his leg and a shotgun in the guitar case on his back.
The article didn't say if the shotgun was in place of the guitar or in addition to it...which I found myself wondering.
Retired wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad played well over a decade in the NFL, all but two years of which were with the Panthers, before retiring after the 2009 season. The length of his professional career was impressive, even if his performance was usually unremarkable.
Something that was remarkable? Muhammad's public defense of former teammate Rae Carruth, who was convicted of the plot to murder his pregnant girlfriend in November 1999. He testified on Carruth's behalf at his trial in 2000, claiming "he was excited about this opportunity to bond with his child."
No stranger to guns himself, Muhammad obviously felt a kinship with his fallen teammate. He was first arrested for firearms possession while playing college ball at Michigan State.
Almost a decade later, Muhammad was again arrested on weapons charges. In 2002 he was pulled over for speeding and police busted him with two 9-mm handguns in his car.
Geez oh man. It's surprising that anyone ever trusted Jose Canseco holding a bat in their presence, let alone frequently enough to build a career in MLB. Because the thought of this guy with a gun is a very frightening prospect.
In 1989, Canseco was pulled over on a Florida highway after cops spotted him cruising at a leisurely 120 mph in his Jaguar. Two weeks later, he was back in California and was arrested when an employee at the University of California noticed Canseco's Jag was outfitted with a semi-automatic pistol on its floor.
The firearm was licensed in Florida, but he claimed he needed it in Cali because of a lot of unsubstantiated "threats" he had been receiving. The California Egg Commission was unhappy with Canseco's conduct and subsequently dropped him as a spokesperson.
It's been awhile since he was arrested for anything gun-specific, but Canseco reaffirmed his love affair with firearms when he came out in support them in the wake of the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting in 2012. He wrote a piece entitled "Control The People, Not The Guns" for Vice magazine in late 2012.
Canseco's support for the gun lobby did not go unnoticed by people on gun-loving message boards like DefensiveCarry.com, who questioned whether Canseco was the caliber (see what I did there?) of person they'd like to see spread their message.
Newsflash: He's not.
Tank Johnson is a free agent defensive tackle whose career in the NFL fizzled after six tumultuous years in the league. Technically, he's a "free agent," but he hasn't played since the 2009 season with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The "Legal Troubles" section of Johnson's Wikipedia page is triple the length of his career achievements, and it all started with an arrest for possession of a firearm at a nightclub back in 2005 when he was playing for the Chicago Bears. That misdemeanor charge really got this tank rolling.
A year later, Johnson was arrested after a police raid on his home turned up three handguns, a rifle, and two assault weapons. He was ultimately charged with six misdemeanor counts for unlawfully possessing the weapons.
Johnson must have earned the nickname "Tank" based on his love of military-level weaponry, rather than anything he accomplished on the field. So the forever status of his free agency will allow him more time to devote to various criminal activities.
During the fallout from an incident in which he got into some gunplay with (then) Wizards teammate Javaris Crittenton over a gambling debt in December 2009, Gilbert Arenas laughed off much of the discussion about the event, telling Esquire (h/t Huffington Post) he was just playing around.
Arenas eventually was forced to get serious, but initially joked via Twitter about being dubbed "the new John Wayne" by the media, according to the Daily News. As for why he had a gun in his locker to begin with, there was obviously a simple explanation.
Arenas, who once owned as many as 500 firearms, told reporters that he had been stockpiling guns in his locker because he wanted to keep them out of the hands of his infant daughter at his Virginia home. Newborn babies are always playing with guns.
In what world is transferring your arsenal of weapons to your desk/locker at work the obvious solution to anything except getting rid of co-workers you aren't fond of? Jeezus, Arenas.
In August 2012, retired NBA player Jayson Williams was released from jail after serving just eight months for drunkenly shooting a limo driver in 2002. As part of a plea deal, he pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault and was sentenced to serve 18 months to five years in prison.
So eight months…that sounds pretty fair to the family of the victim.
Williams had been free on bail for almost a decade while prosecutors attempted to convict him on the more serious charge of reckless manslaughter. He was acquitted of some charges in 2004, but the jury deadlocked on others.
Although the details aren't really disputed, considering there were a number of witnesses on hand when Williams accidentally shot the man while showing off a shotgun, he reportedly asked everyone at the scene to lie to the police about what happened.
Williams settled a wrongful death civil suit for $2.75 million in 2003.
He claims to be gun-free and proud to be these days and is says he's trying to get his life back together. Let's hope, for everyone's sake, he really is.
Referring to Jeremy Mayfield as a "retired" NASCAR driver is actually quite generous, considering the 44-year-old didn't exactly decide to quietly move on to a new career all on his own.
He was slapped with an indefinite suspension in 2009 because an addiction to methamphetamine, which came to light via NASCAR's drug testing program.
In November 2011, it was revealed that Mayfield enjoyed his meth with a side of guns—lots of guns. While exercising a search warrant on his property, police found methamphetamine, roughly 40 guns, many of which were high-powered assault rifles, and approximately $100k in stolen goods.
Mayfield has always maintained his positive drug test was due to the interaction of medication for ADHD and an over-the-counter allergy medication, and has been confrontational about his reinstatement to the sport.
Getting back behind the wheel of a speeding vehicle may be Mayfield's first priority, but the legal road ahead of him is what he should be focused on; he was charged with two more felonies in April 2013.
Gun-toting junkies rarely have their priorities in order.
Hall of Fame baller Karl Malone ended his career in 2004 after playing all but one season with the Jazz, the team that selected him No. 13 overall in the 1985 NBA draft. But beware of this Mailman, because he may be packing heat.
Malone isn't quite as in love with guns as some others on this list. An avid hunter and a one-time spokesperson for the NRA, The Mailman manages to speak frankly about firearms without displaying an uncomfortable smile and stars in his eyes.
Malone supports the right to bear arms and is willing to use a gun on anyone threatening him or his family, but prays it never comes to that.
He has noted that, while he is properly trained and responsible with his firearms, your average athlete isn't. Malone has said many athletes carry guns to be cool, which is more dangerous for them than being unarmed.
The Mavericks' resident survivalist Chris Kaman has been long known to be a huge fan of firearms…and fireworks. He's outspoken on the issue of gun control, specifically that there shouldn't be any. Ever.
Kaman tweeted out a photo of himself posing with two assault rifles two days after the infamous movie-theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. No better way to say "sorry for your loss" to families of the victims.
So all you gun enthusiasts out there, fear not, Chris Kaman is out there safeguarding a right that nobody is trying to take away.
Bengals linebacker James Harrison had been known as "hitman" of sorts in the league long before his notorious Men's Journal feature "Confessions of an NFL Hitman" in August 2011. Not only did he have some very unsavory words for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, he painted a very unflattering picture of himself, too.
The author said Harrison's conservative viewpoints would make Glenn Beck look "squishy," particularly when it comes to gun control. He mentioned you best don a Kevlar vest if you want to talk to Harrison about his right to pose shirtless with own guns on the cover of a national publication.
It was no surprise that Harrison used the murder/suicide of the Chiefs' Jovan Belcher in December 2012 as an opportunity to jump up on his soapbox about guns. His message was opposite that of NBC's Bob Costas, who did the same thing.
You may recall an ugly incident in 2009 in which Gilbert Arenas pulled a gun on Wizards teammate Javaris Crittenton in the locker room over an alleged gambling debt. Arenas received a lot more attention in the aftermath, having apparently been the aggressor of the incident.
However, looking back on it now, it's reasonable to believe that he was just amassing his stockpile of locker-room weapons to defend himself from the stockpile of locker-room weapons Crittenton was amassing.
After all, Arenas is still playing basketball overseas, while Crittenton was recently indicted on the murder of an Atlanta woman in 2011. The murder was gang-related, meaning that Crittenton is allegedly a member of a gang.
Suddenly Gilbert Arenas is looking like a much nicer guy, huh?
For most of his career, retired wide receiver Marvin Harrison was nothing more than the superstar quietly collecting yards and touchdowns courtesy of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. He was a force of nature during the football season and seemingly disappeared during the offseason.
After 13 years in the league, Harrison was asked by the Colts to take a pay cut after the 2008 season. They requested, he declined, opting instead to quietly retire in 2009. His retirement was quiet for exactly one year. In January 2010 the FBI joined an investigation into a Philadelphia homicide the previous summer in which Harrison was a suspect.
Before he died, the victim named Harrison as the shooter—he was the same man who accused Harrison of going on a double-fisted shooting spree outside of his car wash in 2008. The murder was carried out blocks from the car wash and just yards from Playmakers, a bar he owns in Philly.
Harrison was named a person of interest in the case and had one of his guns confiscated, but he seems to have fallen off the face of the earth in the three years since.
Ideally, he really did fall off the face of something. Anyone who read this profile in GQ in February 2010 would probably prefer to meet an hungry grizzly bear in a dark alley than Harrison.
Rays outfielder Luke Scott has long been known to be fond of firearms—he was the partial focus of an Outside The Lines report on athletes and guns on ESPN back in 2006.
In 2011, he was profiled by the network again, as the author followed him to places such as the gun range…and the gun range. Scott enjoyed target practice using a poster of the (since-deceased) Osama bin Laden.
He is licensed to carry a concealed weapon and almost always exercises his right to do so. Sometimes Scott says it's about politics, sometimes he says it's about protection.
In the OTL report, he smiled "broadly" at the notion of of a mugger or burglar targeting him—adding "[they] are going to get shot." Yikes.
Sadly, the fact that Luke Scott is gleefully looking forward to shooting a potential thief someday is probably the nicest thing about him.