Chipper Jones is no left wing loony.
He was born and raised in small-town Florida, hunting and fishing before he ever picked up a baseball bat. During his career, Braves officials would observe that it was impossible to talk to Jones in the offseason because he spent so much time of it in deer stands and duck blinds in the middle of nowhere, out of cell phone range, a rifle in his hand. He has long been known to give voice to conservative political positions and, regrettably, to pass along debunked conspiracy theories he heard on right wing broadcasts.
All of which makes what he told Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution over the weekend all the more surprising:
“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.”
Jones’ comments come after a week and a half in which students from his home state and across the country have come out strongly in favor of weapons legislation in the wake of the Parkland, Florida mass shooting which left 17 dead. They also come after several days in which multiple companies have repudiated business and promotional agreements with the National Rifle Association, which continues to staunchly defend the sale and possession of military-style weapons such as the AR-15.
While debate, often acrimonious, will no doubt continue about these matters indefinitely, it’s striking to see someone like Chipper Jones come out so strongly on the matter in the particular way that he has. It has to make people at the NRA and those who support it wonder if, when you’ve lost Chipper Jones, you’ve gone too far.
Oh well. I suppose they still have Curt Schilling.