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SIMMONS: Arenas rightly under the gun
Are youths being sent in the right direction when it comes to role models? Will gun rights supporters blow an opportunity or take a page from the animal rights movement's book on Michael Vick?
Shouldn't gun owners, like motorists, have to follow the laws of the various states?
Consider this man's story before answering.
A 28-year-old father of three illegally stashes several guns at his workplace. Some of his co-workers find out. Some of his superiors find out. He says he's sorry, and even travels hundreds of miles from his home, something law enforcers often discourage suspected violent felons from doing.
Much of this man's story has been bandied about in recent months because of the man's profession.
Pundits, reporters and bloggers are having a field day about this man's story, which could be a straight-to-video melodrama on vice and guns.
For example, the mother of his children, to whom he is engaged, is accused of having had relations with a married man who works for a rival company.
Also, there is much ado about the central character's race and ethnicity (he's of Cuban heritage), his salary (six-year, $111 million contract signed in 2008), his eccentric ways (he calls himself a goofball), as well as gambling, sex before marriage, children out of wedlock, and gunplay.
Unfortunately, because of this man's profession, much of the reaction has been sympathetic and/or joking, rather than the sort of culture-war handwringing that would result had he been a preacher or a politician. David Letterman's top 10 list included, at #2: "Coach did not specify what kind of pre-game shoot-around it was." My personal favorite is from my husband: "He is one of the NBA's top sharpshooters."
But this is no joking matter.
Sure, this is a guy who willingly donates time and money to help people who are less fortunate than most. But his sense of law and order, and family values are out of sync.
By now you know this story is about Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards, who has admitted taking guns from his home in Northern Virginia and putting them in his D.C. locker at the Verizon Center. He says his motive was safekeeping.
But there is right and there is wrong.
Mr. Arenas is right to exercise his right to buy legitimate firearms. But he was wrong to bring them into the nation's capital, which until recently outlawed handguns and where he does not hold a valid license.
Now that Mr. Arenas has publicly admitted his guilt and has faced gun charges elsewhere, he cannot feign innocence or ignorance. After all, he was charged in 2003 with possessing an unlicensed firearm in San Francisco. That pistol, a .40-caliber handgun, was registered in Arizona but not San Francisco.
The Arenas story presents a perfect counterpoint to gun-control proponents' argument that guns are unsafe. Guns take no action on their own.
A home-safety education plan seems appropriate - and who better to spread the word than Mr. Arenas after he pays his debt to society.
Motorists aren't permitted to break D.C. traffic laws or other laws because they reside elsewhere. Gun owners must follow the letter of the law, too.
Mr. Arenas did not merely "make a mistake," as some have said. A mistake is wasting yellow mustard on your white silk blouse, not committing a felony and throwing away your career. (Argh.)
The unfolding story on Mr. Arenas presents a timely opportunity to parents, gun rights advocates and family-values proponents. After justice runs it course, Mr. Arenas could be positioned to be a near-perfect role model on gun education.
About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
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