James Harrison: Guns had nothing to do with Jovan Belcher tragedy

Harrison owns roughly 20 guns. (US Presswire)

It's been four days since Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend to death before taking his own life, and three days since NBC Sports' Bob Costas moralized to millions about the dangers of guns. Steelers linebacker James Harrison, an avid gun collector who is no stranger to controversy on and off the field, said that Belcher, not the gun he used, is responsible for last weekend's tragedy.

“It’s a big issue as far as what happened and everything, it’s a sad story,” Harrison told USA Today’s Jim Corbett. “But the fact of it being part of the guns. ... They want to say it’s guns and all this other stuff. It’s ridiculous. He did it. And he alone is responsible for it. It has nothing to do with the guns."

Costas, quoting FoxSports.com columnist Jason Whitlock on Sunday night, said this: "In the coming days, Jovan Belcher's actions and their possible connection to football will be analyzed. Who knows? But here, wrote Jason Whitlock, is what I believe. If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins (Belcher's girlfriend) would both be alive today."

Harrison, like a lot of people, doesn't think it's that simple. “Somebody goes out and kills somebody with a knife, you going to blame the knife?" he asked. "Somebody goes out and kills somebody by pushing somebody in front of a train, you going to start cutting off the guy’s arms? You going to start blaming people’s arms now? It’s the person who did it who is responsible.”

Harrison says he owns approximately 20 guns and was photographed brandishing two handguns for a story in the August 2011 issue of Men's Journal titled "Confessions of an NFL Hitman."

Corbett asked Harrison if Belcher's murder-suicide made him reconsider his right to bear arms.

"No, no,'' he said. "I have my guns. I'm going to keep my guns. I'm going to use my guns responsibly and go from there. It's not as far as athletes needing guns [for protection]. It's the right to bear firearms." 

And Harrison refuted the perception that athletes are inordinately predisposed to owning guns.

"It's not an athlete thing, it's a human thing,'' he said. "If you go and say, 'All right, now we're going to take guns away from everybody, and the only person who is going to have guns are the police ... if that was a good thing and that's actually how it would go, then that would work. But the two people who are going to have the guns then are the police and the criminals. ... That's not going to solve things. It's only going to cause more problems."

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CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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