Chipper Jones loves guns. Loves ‘em. He says he’s got five, including a shotgun and a rifle. (Though he says he prefers hunting with a bow because “it’s safer and more sporty.”) But even Jones says regular American civilians have no business being able to own assault weapons, like the AR-15 used to murder 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this month.
“I believe in our Constitutional right to bear arms and protect ourselves,” Jones said. “But I do not believe there is any need for civilians to own assault rifles. I just don’t.
“I would like to see something (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. 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.”
(Let us pause here to head off the inevitable attempt to derail discussion by harping on terminology. Language is about communication, and everyone understands what you mean when you say “assault weapon”: a semi-automatic firearm with a detachable magazine. The gun industry itself adopted and popularized this term to refer to civilian versions of military weapons. There is no confusion here.)
Jones, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame last month, shared his thoughts on guns with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and if they’re surprising to you, they shouldn’t be: a massive majority of Americans—and a majority of gun owners—support stricter gun laws.
Jones’s opinions are nuanced. He’d like to see the minimum age for purchasing a firearm raised to 21. He thinks it’d be silly to arm teachers, an idea floated by Donald Trump and opposed by most teachers and law enforcement. But Jones also believes too much attention is focused on guns, and not enough on parenting and mental health. He believes things have gotten worse since corporal punishment in schools was eliminated.
But for Jones, a Florida native, the easiest and most obvious action to be taken is to try to keep weapons designed for killing large numbers of people out of the hands of people who might use it for exactly that.
“What is going on here in Florida with the protests and people really stepping up to try to make things happen is a good thing,” he said. “It’s always good for there to be open discussion. Hopefully if we can keep those high-powered automatic weapons out of civilians’ hands, the Las Vegases and the Columbines and what happened here in Florida will start to dwindle.”
There’s no “hopefully” about it—it would happen.