- The Washington Times - Monday, January 11, 2010

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Size doesn’t matter if you’re a big, strong sports star being stalked or targeted by miscreants. That’s why many celebrity athletes need to carry guns for protection.

For example, most people wouldn’t think Eddy Curry, the 6-foot-11-inch, 285-pound millionaire New York Knicks center, would need to worry about having his home broken into. Yet in July 2007, he and family members were bound with duct tape while three masked robbers made off with cash and jewelry.

This issue is front-and-center of the sports and law-enforcement worlds now because Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas was suspended indefinitely without pay on Wednesday for bringing a gun into his team’s locker room. There’s no excuse for his behavior, in which he reportedly placed handguns on a chair out in the open, but there are plenty of good reasons for professional athletes to arm themselves.

The wealth and high public profile of basketball players make them attractive targets. “It can be a repairman, a cable guy, it can be anybody. And all they have to do is just relay the message to the wrong person on where you live,” 6-foot-10 inch, 225-pound Bulls forward Joe Smith explained to the Chicago Tribune.

An Internet search reveals five cases of basketball players being robbed from 2005 to 2008. With just 450 players in the NBA, these numbers show a robbery rate of 280 per 100,000 people. This is compared to 145 per 100,000 for the rest of the U.S. population. That means NBA players were robbed at about twice the rate of the rest of the country.

These attacks tend to be more brutal and perpetrated by larger gangs than typical robberies, most likely because assailants are prepared to subdue strong victims. All the robberies committed against NBA players from 2005 to 2008 involved at least two attackers. By contrast, lone crooks commit the overwhelming majority of robberies in America.

Other celebrity athletes face similar dangers. From 2005 to 2008, the murder rate for NFL players was about six times that of the general U.S. population. Two years ago, Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was trying to defend himself with a machete when he was shot and killed by an intruder in his home.

Last week, MSNBC host Ed Schultz and Rev. Al Sharpton called for players to be forbidden to own guns or to undergo counseling to convince them to stop having them. Those who are against Americans being able to defend themselves are the ones who should have their heads examined.

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