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MLB Hall of Famer and hunting enthusiast speaks out on gun control

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In a time when even the most obscure professional athletes are given massive platforms to offer biased and one-sided opinions on national issues, it’s refreshing to see a Hall of Famer provide a nuanced and thoughtful take on a hot-button topic.

After the recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it wasn’t long before athletes and celebrities started questioning why Americans need to have firearms in the first place.

That being said, one of the newest selections to the MLB Hall of Fame, Chipper Jones, actually joined the national debate with some semblance of reason. The Atlanta Braves legend spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the topic and didn’t jump to any radical conclusions.

“I grew up in a town where two-thirds of the people who came to school drove trucks and had hunting rifles and hunting shotguns in their gunracks in their trucks,” Jones told the AJC’s Jeff Schultz. “But never at any point did anyone ever pull one out and say, ‘I’m going to kill somebody.’ Whenever there was a disagreement, we threw knuckles. We’d meet after school and fight. That’s just the way it was.”

Jones, the father of six boys who range in age from 13 months to 20 years, seems aware that the issue of mass shootings has as much to do with contemporary culture as it does with weaponry.

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The Hall of Fame third baseman is also a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment. That shouldn’t be a huge surprise considering he is a hunting enthusiast who hosts “Major League Bowhunter.” He currently owns a pistol, a shotgun and a rifle.

“I believe in our Constitutional right to bear arms and protect ourselves,” Jones said.

Still, Jones did argue there’s no need for civilians to possess automatic or semi-automatic weapons.

“But I do not believe there is any need for civilians to own assault rifles. I just don’t,” he said.

Do you think Jones makes good points regarding banning assault weapons and raising the minimum age to buy a firearm?

“I would like to see (new legislation) happen. I liken it to drugs – you’re not going to get rid of all the guns. But AR-15s and AK-47s and all this kind of stuff – they belong in the hands of soldiers. Those belong in the hands of people who know how to operate them, and whose lives depend on them operating them,” Jones argued. “Not with civilians. I have no problem with hunting rifles and shotguns and pistols and what-not. But I’m totally against civilians having those kinds of automatic and semi-automatic weapons.”

Jones does wade into some murky territory, as there is some debate about what exactly constitutes an “automatic” or “semi-automatic” weapon.

He also believes the minimum age to buy a gun should be raised from 18 to 21.

“Some people will scoff at that, but that’s a big (age) difference,” Jones said. “Kids grow up a lot in those three years.”

Jones is not a staunch Trump supporter, nor is he a member of the National Rifle Association. He does, however, feel that people are too easily blaming both Trump and the NRA for mass shootings.

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“The bottom line is we as individuals, as parents, as a country, we have to take responsibility for our own actions,” Jones said. “Mental health is also a big issue.

“A lot of things have gotten worse since corporal punishment was done away with in schools. My generation of parents and maybe the generation just before have gotten away from disciplining kids and putting fear in their mind and we’ve moved into this world of entitlement: ‘We’re going to do everything we can for our kids and we’re going to spoon-feed them this and that.’ When life happens and life gets rough, kids don’t know how to handle it.”

Even if you disagree with all of Jones’ talking points, at least he seems willing to have an open and uncomfortable conversation about it. If more athletes would be willing to engage in fair and thoughtful discourse like Jones, perhaps the pundits wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss their opinions.

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Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics.
Bryan Chai has written news and sports for The Western Journal for more than five years and has produced more than 1,300 stories. He specializes in the NBA and NFL as well as politics. He graduated with a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is an avid fan of sports, video games, politics and debate.
Birthplace
Hawaii
Education
Class of 2010 University of Arizona. BEAR DOWN.
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, Korean
Topics of Expertise
Sports, Entertainment, Science/Tech




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