It’s heartening to learn that some NFL players are turning in their guns.

Since Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide last week, several African American NFL players are correctly starting to reflect on how loaded weapons can destroy lives.

“In the last seven days, at least seven players around the league have gone to their league security officers to turn in the firearms that they possessed from their homes,” Peter King, a sports analyst, said on NBC’s Sunday night’s football broadcast.

“I’m also told that one of these players who had multiple firearms told the security officer, ‘I don’t trust myself with these guns in the house. Please take them away.’”

That’s a powerful statement from men who enjoy their pistols as much as they like their footballs. A recent USA Today poll found that three out of four NFL players own guns, as opposed to 40% to 45% of the general population.

The proliferation of guns in America should be considered as a national crisis, particularly since the leading cause of death among black males 15-24 years old is homicide – mostly the result of gunshots.

But one Chiefs player said he owns a gun and doesn’t see a problem with a weapon in the home.

“Just because we’re NFL players, it doesn’t make us no different,” Chiefs defensive tackle Shaun Smith told USA Today.

“Some of you guys probably have guns in your houses,” Smith added.” If you have daughters, you should. You never know when somebody might try to rob you or do whatever, you know?”

“At one point a couple years ago, it was nothing but a bunch of home invasions, and you’ve got to protect yourself,” he said. “You work so hard to get to where you’re at, and I’d be damned if I just let somebody take it away from me, period.”

But beyond the debate over gun control, reality is setting in for Belcher’s family. Belcher, a 25-year-old linebacker with the Kansas City Chiefs, leaves behind a baby girl, Joey, three months old.

It’s a very sad situation: Belcher left his daughter without any parents, and, unfortunately, the issue of the baby’s welfare has gotten lost in the heated gun control debate.

Joey, a black baby, seriously needs a father in her life – as all children do.

The orphaned daughter of Jovan will receive about $1 million from the NFL as she grows up. Under the NFL’s Surviving Child benefit, Zoey will receive $9,000 per month for the next 48 months, and at least $4,000 per month from age 4 until she turns 18 – or 23 if she goes to college.

Money doesn’t solve all problems, but it will go a long way to help Zoey get the physical, educational and emotional care she will need when she’s old enough to learn how her parents died.

“If Jovan Belcher didn’t possess a gun, he and Kassandra Perkins would both be alive today,” NBC sports commentator Bob Costas said on the air last week.

I couldn’t agree more.

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